SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 39-year-old Costa Mesa woman was sentenced to seven years in state prison Friday for a DUI collision that nearly killed a teenager last year.
Marnie Jo Lippincott pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to driving under the influence and a sentencing enhancement allegation for causing brain injury and paralysis to her victim.
Michele Gile, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to Crystal Morales, the then 17-year-old girl that Lippincott hit on Dec. 6, 2011.
Said Morales, “I don’t remember half of November and all of December.”
Morales was in a coma for several days after the accident. A year and a day later, she still suffers from lasting injuries to her brain. Of Lippincott, she says, “She put a huge halt to my life.”
Morales broke her back and pelvic bone. She also suffered internal bleeding to the liver, kidney and spleen, her mother said. She also endured severe brain and motor injuries that left her unable to walk initially and unable to care for herself.
Her family testified today that she suffers from mood swings and short-term memory loss. Her mother, Gloria Morales, said that sometimes her daughter gets confused and will put shampoo on her toothbrush.
She also said her daughter is plagued with almost-daily migraines and that she can’t be left by herself for long periods.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm told Lippincott he was considering giving her a 6-year sentence but changed his mind when he found out she was kicked out of drug rehab a few weeks ago for relapsing.
The judge did praise Lippincott for “throwing herself on the mercy of the court” and pleading guilty earlier in the legal process. He also noted her remorse.
In a tearful apology to the victim, the girl’s family and her own family, Lippincott said she wanted to learn from her mistakes.
“Crystal, I had no right to enter your life the way I did,” Lippincott said, dabbing her eyes with tissue. “I hope you know from the bottom of my heart how sorry I am I took so much from you.”
Lippincott added, “I thought I was just hurting myself, but I dragged so many other people into it. You have every right to be angry.”
Morales told the judge how she has struggled emotionally and physically since she was injured.
She was looking forward to going to college, “But now because of my brain injury it’s going to be a while before I can focus on school…This horrific accident really affected the independence I was supposed to get when I turned 18.”
Lippincott had Oxazepham, Temazepam, Phentemine and Methadone in her system at the time of the crash. Her blood-alcohol level was .05 percent more than three hours following the collision.
Gloria Morales said she was unfazed by Lippincott’s remorse. “I’ve been numb since the day Crystal was hit. I don’t have the feelings or strength to even process those looks or [Lippincott's] words.”