Driver sentenced in crash that killed jogger, family says justice not served
A San Jose family said justice was not served in the case of a young woman who was hit and killed by two cars racing on San Jose streets two years ago. This week, a judge sentenced one of the drivers to a year in county jail.
“It hurts every day,” said Kunal Singh, victim’s brother. “It's not something that just goes away. I don't think it will ever go away.”
They’ve been fighting for justice against the two drivers accused of street racing along Yerba Buena Road. Back in January of 2015, Kiran was on a jog five blocks from her home when the cars crashed. One of the cars pinned Kiran against a tree. This week, the family said their fight for justice came to a harsh end.
“There’s people out there that get a lot more for not paying tickets,” said Singh. “I feel like he basically got away with murder.”
A judge sentenced one driver 18-year-old Gabriel Becerra Esparza to a year in county jail, three year probation and 300 hours of community service after he plead no contest to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. The other driver Manuel Maldonado-Avalos was acquitted by a jury last month.
“When you look at the sentencing laws that govern these types of cases and that govern the state of California, this is the realm of sentencing,” said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Tamalca Harris.
“The court has to recognize who the defendant was,” said Legal Analyst Steven Clark. “It was a young person likely immature and irresponsible. There was no drinking involved and there was no intent to kill or harm.”
Clark said it would have been a game changer if alcohol was involved. For this family, it doesn't make a difference.
“It does send the wrong message,” said Arti Chaudhary, the victim’s cousin. “He is young, he's 18 but I feel like it's not fair."
They're now hoping no family goes through their pain, as they play pictures of Kiran on a digital frame in their house to keep her close.
“Nobody walks out of the house thinking I’m going to take someone's life,” said Singh. “At any minute you can. You need to slow down and you need to think.”
Improvements have been made along Yerba Buena Road with a speed detector and rumble strips. The family also started a "slow down" campaign on social media to keep her legacy alive.