A north county woman has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing four pedestrians in a May 2020 DUI crash in Escondido.
As part of a plea bargain, Ashley Rene Williams, 30, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter. She could have faced 60 years to life in prison without the plea arrangement.
Williams bowed her head and cried during her sentencing hearing as grieving family members gave victim impact statements.
“Nobody knows how many times I cry myself to sleep, and think that this is just a nightmare wishing I could just wake up and see them in our home again,” said Norma Espinoza, who lost her mother, stepfather and two young sons in the crash.
Carmela Comacho, 50, her boyfriend, Abel Valdez, 33, and her two grandsons Emmanuel Rivas, 11, and Yovanny Felix, 10, were struck as they walked on San Pasqual Valley Road in Escondido. The family called it their nightly COVID walk.
“It’s really hard on me just to think that I will never ever be able to tuck my kids to sleep, that I will never ever have a conversation with my mom, with my step dad,” said Espinoza.
Prosecutors say Williams was under the influence of DFE, or the air found in aerosol cans typically used to clean electronic devices. She also had methamphetamine and marijuana in her system. She was also driving on a suspended license from a previous DUI, according to prosecutors.
One of the speakers at the sentencing hearing was the teacher for Emmanuel, and also, years ago, the teacher for Williams.
“As sad as I feel for the decisions that Ashley has made, justice has to be served. I’m sad, that as a teacher I’d never be in a courtroom where a former student murdered a current student. I will never forget this for the rest of my life, and this is not a memory I ever wanted to have," said Brandi Krepps.
At one point during the hearing, Espinoza turned to face Williams, who was several feet away.
“I think one day I might forgive her, but I don’t think I’m ready to do that right now. It still hurts,” said Espinoza.
Williams did not make a statement in court, but as she was escorted out by deputies, she turned to several family members and said “I love you.”