San Diego

Sentencing for Chula Vista Hit-and-Run Driver Postponed

The victim's family was upset because the driver now gets to spend time with his family over the holidays

Sentencing for a man who fled after fatally hitting a Chula Vista teenager was postponed Friday so attorneys could have more time to prepare for the hearing.

George Espinosa, 47, hit and killed Leilani Magno, 17, on July 8 while the teen was jogging along Lane Avenue near Scobee Park.

Magno was struck and killed when Espinosa's truck apparently lost control, jumped the sidewalk and hit her from behind. Espinosa then fled the scene. He turned himself in the next day.

"Because he was a coward and he ran away and turned himself in the next day," Marcos Rico, Magno's uncle, said. "We're not sure if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, all we know is he took off."

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.

Friday, the judge okayed the continuance of the sentencing in a hearing that lasted all of three minutes. Espinosa's sentencing has been rescheduled for Jan. 4.

No fewer than 60-supporters of Magno’s family showed up. They all could not fit in the courtroom.

Espinosa only spoke to answer questions by the judge related to the delay in sentencing.

Afterward, Magno’s family said the delay only prolongs their heartache. They’re upset because now Espinosa gets to spend time with his family over the holidays, and they will never see Magno again.

"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.

He’s facing a maximum of five years in prison. He’s been freed on $100,000 bail.

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