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Couple convicted in fatal USC crash to be sentenced

May 24, 2010 |  7:24 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef01156e9ed338970c-800wiA husband and wife convicted in a hit-and-run crash that killed one USC student and left another seriously injured as they walked home last year from a fraternity party are scheduled to be sentenced Monday morning.

Prosecutors filed court papers last week seeking the maximum possible sentence of eight years in prison for Claudia Cabrera, the driver, and seven years for Josue Luna, who was riding in the front passenger seat with their 7-month-old son in the back.

Authorities alleged that the couple's Infiniti sedan ran a red light and struck Adrianna Bachan and Marcus Garfinkle in a crosswalk near campus on March 29, 2009.

Bachan, 18, died from massive head injuries. Garfinkle, then 19, was carried about 300 feet down the street on the hood of the car but survived with multiple injuries, including two broken legs. 

A student who witnessed the crash testified at a court hearing last year that he saw the car's passenger haul Garfinkle's body out of the vehicle's broken windshield while the driver pushed from the inside.

The student said the passenger dumped Garfinkle onto the sidewalk before the car sped off. In court papers, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Janis Johnson said Cabrera fled in part because she had been drinking at a party earlier in the evening.

She had also had her driver's license suspended and a lawsuit filed against her following a previous collision where she had stopped, Johnson said.

"Adrianna's family will never see her smile. Adrianna's family will never hear her laugh. Society will never experience any more of a bright, talented, thoughtful and beautiful young lady," Johnson wrote.

Garfinkle required multiple surgeries and will probably never need more. His family is fighting their health insurance company over more than $200,000 owed in medical bills, according to the court documents.

Cabrera, 31, who had no criminal record, lied to police in an effort to pin the blame on her husband, the prosecutor wrote, adding that "her morals are questionable and her heart callous."

The pair allegedly tried to cover up the crash by getting the car's windshield fixed before having the vehicle towed to Tijuana, Mexico. Luna, 34, promised police that he would return the car but never followed through, Johnson said.

Both pleaded no contest in March to a felony charge of hit-and-and run resulting in great bodily injury. Cabrera also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter.

-- Jack Leonard

Photo: Carmen Bachan holds a photo of her daughter, Adrianna Bachan, who was killed in a hit-and-run near USC in 2009. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times