A San Francisco woman was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison in Sonoma County Superior Court this afternoon for a crash that killed two women and injured three others after a wine tasting outing in July.
Lyndsay Murray-Mazany, 28, tearfully apologized to members of the victims’ families just before Judge Rene Auguste Chouteau rejected defense attorney Chris Andrian’s request for probation.
“I want you to know I’m so sorry,” she said.
Some of the crash victims’ family members asked Chouteau for leniency.
“My mother would not be seeking vengeance. She would know the remorse that is in (Murray-Mazany’s) heart,” said Bob Jones, whose 77-year-old mother Beverly Jones of Cloverdale died in the July 18 crash.
Murray-Mazany was driving a 2004 Hyundai south on Geyserville Avenue in unincorporated Sonoma County when her car went straight through a 90-degree curve and struck the right side of an eastbound 2001 Subaru Forrester, the California Highway Patrol said. The crash happened at about 5:30 p.m. on July 19.
Two passengers in the Subaru, Jones and Nancy McBride, 77, of Cloverdale, were killed on impact.
The driver of the Subaru, Katherine Hinzman, 56, of Cloverdale, and two other passengers, Alice Sheperla, 82, and Barbara King, 70, both of Cloverdale, suffered moderate to major injuries, the CHP said.
The women in the Subaru had attended a play at Santa Rosa Junior College and were heading to Geyserville for dinner, the CHP said.
Murray-Mazany told the CHP that she and her three passengers, who were not injured, had been wine tasting in the Dry Creek and Geyserville area. She said she believed her car’s brakes failed.
Murray-Mazany pleaded guilty in October to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI, and DUI with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more.
She also admitted several enhancements alleging the crash caused multiple injuries or death and caused felony bodily harm, and that the victims were elderly.
Chouteau indicated during settlement conferences he would sentence her to no more than seven years in prison. The maximum penalty on all four felony charges and the enhancements is 20 years.
Chouteau sentenced Murray-Mazany to two years for one of the gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges and to a consecutive one-year term for causing bodily injury or death.
He sentenced her to a consecutive eight-month term for a second count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and struck the remaining charges and enhancements or stayed sentencing on them.
Deputy District Attorney Robin Hammond asked Chouteau to sentence Murray-Mazany to seven years in prison.
She said Murray-Mazany was aware of the dangers of drinking and driving because she was a bartender in Virginia and had been a designated driver in the past.
Hammond said Murray-Mazany made a “selfish decision” to drive anyway after wine tasting. She said giving the defendant probation and not state prison would send the wrong message to wine tasters who drink and drive in the county.
Andrian said none of the other people in Murray-Mazany’s car thought she or themselves had too much to drink, and a medic and CHP officer at the scene of the accident did not believe Murray-Mazany was intoxicated.
Murray-Mazany’s blood-alcohol level at the crash site was 0.10 percent, and then 0.09 percent a half-hour later, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said. A driver is considered legally intoxicated at 0.08 percent.
Two-thirds of the full courtroom stood up when Andrian asked how many people were there to support his client. He said they also were willing to volunteer any community service hours the judge imposed on Murray-Mazany if he gave her probation.
Chouteau said he decided his previously indicated seven-year prison sentence was “excessive” and that three years and eight months was “appropriate.”
James Lanaras, Bay City News