SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 37-year-old woman who drove the wrong day down a road in 4S Ranch while drunk, triggering a head-on crash that killed the other motorist, was convicted of second-degree murder Tuesday.
A March 13 sentencing date is set for Alexandria Bayne, who is facing 15 years to life in prison for 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 was previously convicted last year 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.
The defendant was charged with murder due to two previous DUI convictions from 2005 and 2008.
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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 percent, though Bright alleged it could have been as high as .40 at the time of the crash. The legal limit is .08.
"She chose to drink. She chose to drive. She chose to put the life of other motorists in danger on December 17th, 2016, and because of that, Sarita Shakya was killed," Bright said.
Bayne's attorney, Michelle Hunsaker, told jurors that Bayne was distracted by family issues, as well as her cell phone. The attorney said the intersection was also poorly marked, adding to her client'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.