SANTA ANA (CBS) — A woman accused of killing a bicyclist in Dana Point pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

According to Orange County sheriff’s officials, it was on October 15th, 2007 when 30-year-old, Michelle Nicole Stearns lost control of her BMW while driving northbound on Del Obispo Street near Quail Run. The car jumped the curb, hit a traffic sign and crashed into 32-year-old Jose Umberto Barranco-Patino, killing him. The crash also triggered a power outage in the area for about 600 customers.

An Orange County sheriff’s spokesman said Stearns’ blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time. The San Juan Capistrano resident made an open plea — meaning there are no guarantees from prosecutors or the judge on what her punishment will be — her attorney Michael Eric Kraut said.

Stearns was sent to a 90-day diagnostic program run by the Department of Corrections to determine if she is eligible for probation. Her attorney declined further comment.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (16)
  1. ILLEGALS says:

    She is cute, rich, & white, therefore they will allow her probation.

    1. AJ Morgan says:


  2. ILLEGALS says:

    and beside being rich, cute, & white, she killed Jose Umberto Barranco-Patino. I mean it’s Jose, in the justice system, who’s dat?

  3. ESTANLEY says:

    white people ,always getting away with murder.

  4. gr8biceps says:

    this B*TCH should have the book thrown at her. Of course if she’s cute and white and only 30 years of age, her dad – the one who BOUGHT her the car because she’s way too busy partying to hold down a real job – will help get her off without any jail time. Disgusting


    If it was the other way around, if JOSE UMBERTO BARRANCO killed this WHITE Lady, he’ld get at least 10 years easily & restitution for the damages to the power polls & stop signs and whatever costs.

  6. Wet Boy says:

    Damn, she will get away with Murder coz she White!

  7. droidly says:

    so. i’m unclear on this story..has she actually been setenced or not?

  8. Catalina Ramos says:

    What’s race got to do with this case? People who play the race card here are IDIOTS!

  9. Robear says:

    And could someone tell me why has it taken 3 1/2 years since the DUI vehicular manslaughter “accident” for this to come to a court of law?

    Killing someone while drunk should result in an automatic, immediate and unquestionable 15 years behind bars. Leave the fancy lawyers out of it.

    You drink, you kill, you go to prison. Period.

    This woman has been walking – and most likely driving – free for over 3 years now.

    Where the F***ing Justice?

    Oh that’s right, the victim was Hispanic… Figures!

    1. lust says:

      i agree.. i live in the complex where it happen and i work across the street. i hadn’t been home from work to long when i lost power and heard sirens, i went outside and saw this with my own eyes. it was horrible not to mention i also knew Jose he was a hard working family man, a really nice guy. i have to agree why did this case take so long? one word MONEY. and yes you can see her still driving the streets of Dana Point. its sad because i still live in the same place and i see Jose’s family and friends every Oct 15th putting candles and flowers on the spot where he died. and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that she will get a lesser sentence than what she really deserves. i have been watching this case from the start. she will be going to court in June for sentencing

  10. Robear says:

    My erstwhile neighbor had an accident while drunk a month ago. It was her 3rd DUI. Her mom was in the car with her and got hurt, but didn’t report that to the police, as she knew it would mean an “attempted vehicular manslaughter” charge against her daughter. She spent the night in jail, and this being her 3rd DUI, it should have kept her in there for a while (3 strikes law). But Lo and Behold, she was out the next morning!


    She’s young, blonde, very pretty, that’s why!

    She got drunk again that day after being released, and tried to stab a customer at a restaurant… but that’s another story!

  11. River says:

    Get over your racist remarks. White, attractive & blonde has nothing to do with it. I am white and blonde, got a DUI and I got NO favors. Are you people really that ignorant?

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