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Melissa Brown apologizes to Garnica family during sentencing hearing

Driver in July 4 crash due to be sentenced today

Posted: November 9, 2011 1:07 p.m.
Updated: November 9, 2011 1:07 p.m.

SAN FERNANDO - Melissa Brown stood up in San Fernando Superior Court today and faced the family of the woman whose life she took with her car on Independence Day last year.

Shaking and crying and with a voice that blurted out suddenly loud, she said: "I can't tell you how sorry I am from the bottom of my heart.

"If there is anything I could do to bring back your mom, I would," she said as a courtroom full of crying spectators looked on.

"I just can't imagine the pain I caused you," she said. "It is a pain I think about every day and every second of my life.

"I am really, really sorry," Brown said, sobbing.

Brown, a 23-year-old college student, was at the wheel of her car on the night of July 4, 2010, when it collided with another vehicle on Valencia Boulevard at Mall Entrance.

Valencia was lined with spectators watching the finale of the city-sponsored fireworks show, and Brown's vehicle careened into the crowd, crushing to death Matilde Garnica Juarez, a Newhall mother of three.

Witnesses said Brown was speeding and ran a red light.

In October Brown entered a plea of "no contest" to a charge of vehicular manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

She is expected to be sentenced this afternoon.

Garnica's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city of Santa Clarita, the company that owns Westfield Valencia Town Center, and other agencies.




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