A woman who was under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine when she crashed head-on into a car near the Pala Casino, killing two couples, pleaded guilty Tuesday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury.
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Deanna Fridley, 27, changed her plea on the day her second trial was to begin.
A mistrial was declared in July 2010 when a lone juror was unconvinced that Fridley was driving her GMC Yukon Denali when it crossed the centerline and smashed head-on into another car, killing four friends out for night of dinner and gambling at two North County casinos.
Judge Runston Maino was expected to sentence Fridley to 18 years in prison at a hearing Feb. 22.
Fridley was originally charged with murder. Prosecutor Brenda Daly said the victims' families were consulted before the defendant's change of plea.
According to the prosecution, Fridley spent part of Dec. 14, 2007, drinking alcohol and smoking methamphetamine with her best friend, Amber Arviso, who herself was responsible for injuring several people in an alcohol-related collision about a month earlier.
The women were joined by a man named Anthony Boles, and Arviso was later left behind after an argument.
Fridley and Boles were returning to pick up Arviso when the crash occurred just before midnight on a curve on state Route 76, about three miles from the casino, prosecutors said.
The two couples were on their way home when Luis De Santiago's Toyota Camry was struck head-on by Fridley's SUV.
De Santiago, his wife Lina, Luis Baez and his wife Rubi were killed.
Fridley and Boles were pulled from the flaming Yukon and hospitalized with broken bones. Her blood-alcohol level was .12 percent, and she tested positive for meth, authorities said.
Fridley testified at her first trial that she drove her SUV around much of the day, but switched seats with Boles after realizing she was too "messed up" to drive.
Boles testified that he was not driving when the crash occurred.
Last Aug. 22, Fridley's sister was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.
Candice Marie Nelson, a 25-year-old mother of three, was fatally struck while walking along the shoulder of state Route 76, near Palomar Mountain. Escondido resident Rickey Lester Burns later pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run charge and was sentenced to a year in jail.
The victims' loved ones reacted to Fridley's change in plea on Tuesday.
DeSantiago's daughter Jessica said, "What [Fridley] showed us was no remorse
She said she wanted more from the woman who was accused of killing her parents.
"She could have whispered, 'I'm sorry,'" she said. "She could have given me a sad face."
However, Jessica DeSantiago said there was some closure.
"They could have given her life [or] given her death," she said. "It's not going to bring my parents back."
Maria Owens, the sister of Luis Baez, told 10News, "We were waiting for this from the beginning. We could have avoided so much hurt and so much pain. [Fridley] had no remorse in her voice. She never turned around to look at us to say, 'I'm sorry.'"
"All I can say is I'm shocked," said Lina DeSantiago's sister, Claudia Campos. "This is like a nightmare and I can never wake up. It's sad and devastating
She choked back tears as she spoke about her lost loved ones.
"I will never see my sister again," said Campos. "I will never hear her voice. I will never see her smile."
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