Family and friends of three people at the center of a deadly crash packed a downtown San Diego courtroom Tuesday for the sentencing of the drunk driver who caused the collision.
Prosecutors say Alondra Marquez, 22, slammed into the back of a ride-sharing service car in March, killing 40-year-old Giao Pham and leaving his friend Andy Lynn with permanent brain damage.
Forty people showed up on behalf of the victims, with 13 speaking before the judge. The family of the defendant also attended the sentencing. People on both sides could be heard sobbing as friends and family shared memories of the man killed in the crash, and the man broken by it.
Two powerful emotions dominated the testimony: anger and grief. One by one, friends and relatives of Pham and Lynn stood before the judge and vehemently asked her to give Marquez the maximum sentence.
Pham, a Bay Area man, and Lynn were in the backseat of a Lyft on their way to Pham’s hotel following a friend’s wedding.
Police say Marquez drank more than three times the legal limit before she got behind the wheel, and plowed into the back of their Lyft car on State Route 163, north of Laurel Street, at more than 100 miles an hour.
The impact killed Pham instantly, and put Lynn on life support.
"Let's not forget that she sentenced Giao to a death penalty,” said friend of the victims, Sarah Washington. “And I would also like to say that she sentenced Andy to a life of never getting to see his best friend Giao again."
Lynn now goes to rehab five times a week and needs help with basic tasks. He can no longer drive.
His little sister and primary caretaker told the judge that they both go to bed knowing his brain damage is not reversible.
Pham’s family says leniency in the drunk driver's sentence should be off the table.
"You're not remorseful,” Pham’s niece Jennifer Nguyen told Marquez. “March 23rd wasn't the first time you drank and drive, it's just the first time you got caught."
Family hoping to walk away with a sense of closure - if not justice - will have to wait another week for Marquez’s official sentencing. The defense and prosecution agreed to a continuance before the hearing began. They’re waiting on the results of a pending mental evaluation for the defendant.