San Diego

Man Convicted in Hit-And Run That Killed Teen Jogger Sentenced

A high school tennis coach convicted of fatally hitting a teen jogger on a Chula Vista sidewalk and fleeing the scene in his truck was sentenced to prison Friday.

George Espinosa, 47, hit and killed Leilani Magno, 17, on July 8, 2018, while the teen was jogging along Lane Avenue near Scobee Park. On Friday he was sentenced to three years behind bars.

Magno was struck when Espinosa's truck apparently lost control, jumped the sidewalk and hit her from behind. Espinosa turned himself in the day after the accident.

"Her beating heart was stopped due to the actions and choices of one worthless man," Magno's aunt Susanna Rico said at his sentence hearing. "A man who had the opportunity to show he was a good person but he failed miserably and made the choice to leave and run away, come back and see what he did and ran away like a coward. You're a coward and you killed Leilani."

As Rico and other family members spoke in court, Espinosa sobbed with his head in his hands.

Before his sentence was handed down, Espinosa offered a tearful apology to Magno's family.

"I'm truly, truly sorry from the bottom of my heart," he said. "... the devastation that I caused, I'm sorry. I truly am. If there was any way in this world that I could give you your daughter back, trust me, I would do anything in this world."

Magno's family called her the "heart of the family," a "North Star," and said the pain of losing her is indescribable.

Espinosa is the boy’s tennis head coach at Mater Dei High School, a private Catholic school only a few miles away from where Magno was struck and killed.

His sentencing was originally scheduled for November but a judge postponed it so that attorneys could have more time to prepare their cases.

Family members and supporters of the Magno family said the postponement only prolonged their heartache.

No fewer than 60 supporters of the family showed up to the postponement hearing -- they all could not fit in the courtroom.

They said they were upset because the delay allowed Espinosa, who was freed on $100,000 bail, to spend time with his family over the holidays while, because of Espinosa, they were denied the same time with Magno.

"We understand this individual wants to spend time with his family. Unfortunately, we don't have that opportunity," Melissa Rico, Magno's aunt, said. "We didn't even have the opportunity to see my niece and tell her we love her for one last time."

Espinosa pleaded guilty on Aug. 30 to felony hit and run and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter.

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