The driver convicted of killing a mother and her baby in a drunk-driving crash in Livermore in 2015 was sentenced 30 years to life in prison Friday morning.
Brian Jones, 40, was sentenced 15 years to life each, for two separate counts of second-degree murder. The sentences are to be served consecutively, so he faces a minimum of 30 years.
Jones was convicted for driving dunk and speeding down a street in Livermore in May 2015.
Jones crashed into an apartment on Murrieta Boulevard and killed Esperanza Morales-Rodriguez and her 14-month old daughter Ulidia Perez-Morales. The mother and daughter were struck and killed on the sidewalk.
Livermore Police said Jones' blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit when he got behind the wheel and crashed his 2014 Corvette. They confirmed Jones was at the Livermore Wine Country Festival Saturday in the hours before the crash.
Before a sentence was handed down, Judge Paul Delucchi allowed the victims’ family members to make a few statements. Gil Perez said his family had been deeply affected by the loss of his wife and daughter. He said Jones was a threat to society and asked for justice.
Jones’ aunt, Cathie Morris, also addressed the court. She spoke directly to the Morales-Perez family and apologized for their loss. She said she wanted to address the family sooner, but attorneys advised them to have no contact during the legal process. She said Jones is riddled with guilt and shame. She asked the judge for a lenient sentence in the hopes he may be able to carry on a life if he was ever granted parole.
Jones addressed the family himself and read a letter aloud where he said he hated himself for taking the lives of two of their loved ones. He said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the choices I made that day… I pray that God can do more for them than I can, which is only to say I’m sorry.”
Judge Delucchi said although he believes Jones is remorseful, two lives were lost. Defense Attorney Ernie Castillo said he wanted a lesser sentence of 15 years to life.
“He’s depressed,” Castillo said. “He feels terrible. He really does feel terrible about what he did.”
Castillo also said Jones is planning to appeal the verdict from November 2017. He said Jones did not get a fair trial because of a tainted jury.
“We believe jurors engaged in deliberations illegally. They considered evidence that was not presented at the trial,” he said.
Castillo is referencing a prior case where Jones was arrested on suspicion of DUI. In 2003 he pleaded "no contest" to misdemeanor DUI in Sacramento County. Castillo said a juror told another juror about this case even though it was supposed to be excluded from court.
“This has been a really heavy day for everyone involved,” Castillo added. “It’s been really difficult. Brian Jones has accepted responsibility for this situation since the very beginning. He’s been extremely shameful about his conduct. This case is going to weigh heavily on his soul for the rest of his life.”