SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A state appellate court panel Friday upheld the murder conviction of a woman who drove the wrong way down a 4S Ranch road while drunk nearly five years ago, triggering a head-on crash that killed the other motorist.
Alexandria Bayne, 39, was convicted of second-degree murder last year for causing the Dec. 17, 2016, crash that killed Sarita Shakya, a 38-year-old Scripps Mercy Hospital nurse. Shakya had just gotten off work and was headed home when the crash occurred shortly before midnight.
Bayne had two trials in the case, one in which she was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury. She was retried on the murder count on which the previous jury had deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt, and sentenced last year to 15 years to life in state prison.
She was charged with murder due to two previous DUI convictions from 2005 and 2008.
Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright told jurors that Bayne had been drinking alcoholic beverages throughout the day, starting that morning. She left a friend's house around 11:30 p.m., then drove into opposing traffic lanes on Camino Del Norte at more than 60 miles per hour, with no indications of braking, according to Bright.
A hospital blood draw taken after the crash measured her blood-alcohol content at .33%, though Bright alleged it could have been as high as .40% at the time of the crash.
"She chose to drink. She chose to drive. She chose to put the life of other motorists in danger on Dec. 17, 2016, and because of that, Sarita Shakya was killed," Bright said.
Bayne's attorney, Michelle Hunsaker, told jurors that her client was distracted by family issues, as well as her cell phone. The attorney said the intersection was also poorly marked, adding to Bayne's confusion.
"It was tears, poor signage and fatigue that destroyed those two families," Hunsaker said. "We are not discounting the magnitude of the loss of Ms. Shakya and we take full responsibility for that collision. But distraction does not equal murder."
Hunsaker also disputed the prosecution's allegations regarding Bayne's blood-alcohol level. Though the defense attorney conceded Bayne drank on Dec. 17, Hunsaker said Bayne had encountered several people throughout the day and did not appear intoxicated.
In her opening statement, Bright said Bayne's boyfriend had spoken to her over the phone just prior to the crash and recognized by the sound of her voice that she was drunk. Bright said the boyfriend offered to give Bayne a ride, but she refused.