Woman Accused of Driving Drunk, Killing Mom Pleads Not Guilty

Prosecutors say the woman accused of plowing into a family and killing a mother with her car had  sake, a shot of Fireball and a vodka drink before driving.

Katie Ellison, 21, appeared in court Friday for her arraignment with a bandage around her face, covering her nose. Ellison pleaded not guilty to all four felony counts against her, including DUI and second degree murder. Her bail was set at $3 million.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Ellison admitted to investigators she had a prior DUI from when she was 17, for which she spent six months with Alcoholics Anonymous taking classes.

On Friday, Sept. 25, Ellison got off work and went to a restaurant, where she says she had one beer. However, Bright said Ellison instead had a vodka mixed drink and a shot of fireball.

She followed that by taking four shots of sake at a sushi bar, according to Bright, and then drove to Lakeside.

California Highway Patrol officials said as Ellison drove onto Woodside Avenue, she was going fast and without her lights on.

Bright said a car flashed their lights at Ellison to let her know hers were off, but she continued driving down the road, toward Lorraine Kennedy and her husband David Sandel, who were leaving dinner with their son and his girlfriend.

Their son, Travis had already crossed the street with his girlfriend before Kennedy and Sandel began crossing. They didn't see the Toyota Yaris coming toward them because the lights were off.

The prosecutor said Ellison slammed into the couple, throwing Kennedy through the windshield of the Yaris from the impact. Officials confirmed Kennedy succumbed to her serious injuries the next morning, dying in the hospital Saturday.

When Ellison was taken to the hospital, she had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, Bright said.

Sandel is still in the hospital with multiple broken bones and will be undergoing surgery. Prosecutors say the force of the impact threw him more than 100 feet from where they were walking.

Kennedy and Sandel were visiting from Texas, in town to spend time with their son, Travis, and for his daughter's birthday.

Travis attended the arraignment Friday and wept as the hearing proceeded, comforted by his girlfriend beside him.

Ellison was released Saturday evening from the hospital and has been jailed at the Las Colinas Detention Facility.

She faces 15 years to life plus six years if convicted.

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