The driver who was responsible for a car wreck that killed an El Dorado High School student earlier this year accepted a plea deal Monday morning.
Victoria Elizabeth Guinn, 19, was behind the wheel of a Nissan 350z on March 27 when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into oak trees along Newtown Road in Placerville.
Killed in the crash was passenger Timothy Mulholland, 17, a senior at El Dorado High School.
Before a packed courtroom audience Monday, Guinn pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter.
She had also been charged with possession of marijuana, but the charge was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas C. Phimister, before sentencing Guinn, allowed Mulholland’s friends and family to speak about the impact created by the death of the young man.
Two of Mulholland’s sisters, Faith and Cassandra, delivered tearful statements about the young man they referred to as their “hero.”
“Tim and I were very close,” said Faith. “He was the best man in my life.”
“How many important things will he miss, I wonder,” said Cassandra.
Faith told the court that the loss of her older brother will be something she deals with for the rest of her life.
“I’m worried I will forget what he looks like or what he sounds like,” she said.
Kristine Running, Mulholland’s girlfriend, said she was robbed of the love of her life.
“I miss his laughter, his contagious smile,” she said.
Perhaps the most powerful words came from Mulholland’s mother, Melanie, who brought with her a framed picture of her son.
“I will not see him again,” she said. “I will not hear him call my name from down the hall.”
Melanie told the court that the life she had hoped for Timothy exists only in her mind.
“I will not dance with him at his wedding,” she said through tears. ”He will not be here to take care of me when I’m old.”
Timothy had planned on enlisting in the U.S. Navy after high school. Melanie said he was eagerly awaiting the opportunity.
“He couldn’t wait to defend our country and preserve our rights,” she said.
Since the death of her son, Melanie said simple things, such as getting out of bed in the morning, have become a struggle.
“I do it because I know it would make him proud,” she said. “But rarely do I do it because I want to.”
Every single aspect of her life changed with the car crash, Melanie said.
“The woman that I once was is gone,” she said. “There are days when I wake up and look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the woman looking back at me.”
In addition to praising the young man’s character and thoughtfulness, all who read statements Monday expressed dissatisfaction with Guinn’s behavior following the death of her friend.
The woman, according to speakers, has made no attempt to contact the Mulhollands since the crash.
“If (she) would just communicate with me, maybe it would ease my pain,” said Faith.
“I have tried to reach out to her but to no avail,” Melanie said.
One woman did speak in defense of Guinn and said that all youths make poor choices but that they rarely cause such pain.
As Timothy’s friends and family read their statements for the court, Guinn sat silently next to her attorney and appeared to stare down at the table.
David Weiner, Guinn’s attorney, delivered a brief statement on his client’s behalf.
“This will live with her forever,” he said. ”She is deeply, deeply, deeply sorry.”
Weiner said Guinn wrote letters to the Mulhollands but that they were not sent for undisclosed reasons.
Guinn was sentenced to 14 days in county jail, three years of probation, 300 hours of community service and had her driving privileges revoked for three years.
Guinn will also be required to participate in a MADD program while attending college in Arizona and must speak at six driver’s safety educational meetings.
In rendering Guinn’s sentence, Judge Phimister said cases like Guinn’s are especially difficult for all parties involved.
“Basically, a crime has occurred,” he said. “The circumstances are such that the line is a very, very fine line.”
After Monday’s sentencing, Melanie Mulholland told the Mountain Democrat that she would still like to speak with Guinn in the future about the death of her son.
E-mail Jim Ratajczak at email@example.com or call 530-344-5069.