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Drunk driver sentenced in death of bicyclist

July 8, 2011 |  6:35 pm

A 30-year-old Orange County woman was sentenced Friday to six years in state prison after killing a bicyclist in a 2007 accident in which she had a blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit, the Orange County district attorney's office said.

It was early on the morning of Oct. 15, 2007, prosecutors said, when Michelle Nicole Stearns approached a curve in Dana Point but didn't turn and instead drove onto the sidewalk, hitting street signs. Her car began to spin and she struck Jose Barranco-Patino.

Barranco-Patino, who bussed tables at a local restaurant, was riding his bicycle home from work. He suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Orange County Sheriff's Department deputies said Stearns had watery, bloodshot eyes, was stumbling and smelled of alcohol. She had a blood-alcohol level of 0.20%.

Stearns, of San Juan Capistrano, pleaded guilty in March to one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

ALSO:

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-- Rick Rojas

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