Victim's Family Furious Over DUI Driver's Shortened Prison Term

A woman was surprised to see the driver who killed her father in a grocery store -- four years before her scheduled prison sentence was over

By Steven Luke and Andie Adams
|  Monday, Jul 14, 2014  |  Updated 8:08 AM PDT
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Family Furious Over DUI Driver's Early Release

Arthur Jacobs, 64, of Vista, was fatally struck by a truck at about 10 p.m. on July 27, 2011, while riding a bike southbound El Camino Real near Cassia Road on July 27, 2011.

 A North County woman believes justice has not been served after the drunken hit-and-run driver who killed her father was released from prison much earlier than expected.

Melissa Tennent told NBC 7 the death of her father, Arthur Jacobs, took a lot away from her and her children.

He was killed in 2011 by drunken driver Julianne Thomson, 25, as he was riding his bike in Carlsbad. Thomson was sentenced to serve six years in prison for the crime in March 2012.

But recently, Tennent was surprised and infuriated to see Thomson at a grocery store: just two years and one month into her sentence.

“I think this should be a big concern for everyone. It’s just telling people – it’s giving that message you can be reckless – you’re driving drunk – to be able to get out in two years for that?” Tennent said.

Thomson was driving under the influence when she hit Jacobs on his bike, ditched her vehicle and tried to hide in some bushes.

She later pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run causing death, but both felonies are not considered serious or violent under current law, which means every day served with good behavior earned her another day back.

"Everyone in court – the prosecutors, the defense attorney and the judges – are well aware of how this is going to play out,” said attorney Tony Solare. “Everybody knows when you're sentenced to six years, you're not going to do six years under any circumstances."

Thomson was also part of a fire camp to earn additional service credits, reducing her entire six-year sentence to two years and a month.

Solare said it probably does not sound like enough of a sentence, but under current guidelines, it was fair.

“Because quite frequently the people who are the defendants in these cases are, but for a really bad decision one night…they're really good people,” said Solare.

Tennent said she was upset that she was not notified by law enforcement of Thomson’s release – something for which she was not emotionally prepared.

Victims’ families typically need to fill out a form enabling them to be notified, but Tennent told NBC 7 she doesn’t remember a deputy district attorney telling her that was an option.

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