Driver who struck girls to be sentenced

Posted at 8:25 AM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 11:25:00-05

SAN DIEGO - A motorist who drove onto a sidewalk in Tierrasanta and hit two girls -- killing one and seriously injuring the other -- is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday at the downtown courthouse.

Julianne Little, 31, was convicted in November of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run. Jurors found that the defendant was distracted but was not texting or fatigued when she struck the girls, killing 10-year-old Raquel Rosete. She suffered a broken spine and a traumatic brain injury, was placed on life support and died three days later.

Raquel's 12-year-old friend, Mekayla, suffered a broken ankle and concussion when the girls were struck just before 6 p.m. last Feb. 20.

In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Melissa Vasel said Little knew she hit the girls while driving distracted. Vasel said a number of people stopped to render aid after the crash, but Little drove to her home about two miles away.

Little testified that she didn't know she hit someone, but Vasel told the jury that she had to know because Raquel's body was right in front of her on the windshield when she struck the child. She added that Little couldn't wait to text a man named Rodney after he ignored 18 text messages from her the night before.

Little told police she didn't use her phone after sending a text from the parking lot after getting off work.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Charles Quirk told the jury that Little was tired and fell asleep while driving home. Once there, she told her father that she had been in an accident and they returned to the scene.

Little thought she had hit a car, Quirk told the jury.

"It's an accident," Quirk told the jury. "She wasn't texting while driving."

A blood test for drugs or alcohol in Little's system came back negative, her attorney said.

Little faces 11 years and eight months in prison.