Woman Drunkenly Slammed Into Homeless Man — Then Kept Driving With Body in Front Seat: Reports
Esteysi Sanchez will reportedly be sentenced to 15 years to life for the second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter of Jack Ray Tenhulzen
A California woman reportedly faces the possibility of life in prison after jurors convicted her last week of murdering a homeless man in 2016 when she drunkenly struck him with her car — then continued down the road for more than a mile with his dead body in the seat next to her.
Esteysi “Stacy” Sanchez, 31, will be sentenced on May 31 to 15 years to life behind bars in the death of 69-year-old Jack Ray Tenhulzen, the San Diego Tribune reports.
Sanchez was found guilty on Friday of second-degree murder as well as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit and run.
Tenhulzen was mowed down along Mission Avenue in San Diego County early on June 27, 2016, as he walked on the sidewalk, according to the Tribune.
While Tenhulzen died immediately in the collision — his body smashed through the passenger side of the windshield — Sanchez did not stop driving.
Little more than a mile later, she parked her vehicle a block from her home and walked the rest of the way, according to the Tribune.
Jurors reportedly took a day to reach their verdict.
While Sanchez had no prior drunk-driving infractions, according to local TV station KSWB, prosecutors argued she committed murder given that evidence showed friends warned her not to drive home, according to the Tribune.
San Diego Deputy District Attorney Robert Bruce was happy jurors agreed.
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“I think this sends a message that if you are warned not to drink and drive, and you drink and drive anyway, you may be found guilty of murder,” Bruce told reporters after the verdict, reports the Tribune.
KSWB reports that prosecutors said Sanchez’s blood-alcohol was measured at .18-.19 percent two hours after she hit Tenhulzen.
The impact severed one of his legs at the foot, according to KSWB and the Tribune. He was also pulled from his pants and shoes.
The defense argued Sanchez fell asleep prior to striking Tenhulzen and “freaked out” after waking up to find his bloody body in the seat next to her as she drove home from a party, reports KSWB and the Tribune.
Sanchez’s attorney reportedly said that instead of murder, she should have been charged with vehicular manslaughter. He said it was her being tired, not alcohol, that caused the crash, according to news station KNSD.
Sanchez’s attorney could not be reached for comment by PEOPLE.
“He has a lot of people who love him,” Tenhulzen’s niece told the Tribune earlier in the prosecution, describing him as “very cerebral, a voracious reader and a sports fan.”
“He wasn’t just some dude that ended up in somebody’s windshield,” she said. “He made a huge difference in our lives.”