Drunk driver pleads guilty in DUI fatality

Posted at 4:10 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 02:02:45-04

A 21-year-old woman who drove drunk with her headlights off in Lakeside, killing a grandmother and seriously injuring the victim's husband, pleaded guilty Tuesday to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury.

Katie McGrosso is expected to be sentenced to 11 years and eight months in prison at a hearing Aug. 9.

McGrosso was charged with second-degree murder in the death last Sept. 25 of Lorraine Kennedy of Brenham, Texas, who had traveled to San Diego with her husband, David Sandel, to celebrate her granddaughter's 4th birthday.

Lorraine Kennedy's son testified at a preliminary hearing in February that he, his girlfriend, his mother, stepfather and uncle had just left a Mexican restaurant and were headed to their cars when the accident happened.

"I saw my stepdad fly in the air," Travis Kennedy said.

He said he saw a car stopped in the street and ran to his 55-year-old mother, who was lying in front of it.

"Her pulse went away," he said.

Sandel testified that he suffered a lacerated liver, four broken ribs, leg and head injuries and a torn shoulder.

At McGrosso's arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright told a judge that the defendant -- an auto mechanic -- went to a restaurant after work and had a vodka and a shot of Fireball whisky, followed by four shots of sake at a sushi bar.

Bright said the defendant then drove to Lakeside. She was traveling "at a significant speed" in the 12200 block of Woodside Avenue with her lights off when she struck the Texas residents as they crossed the street behind Travis Kennedy and his girlfriend.

Lorraine Kennedy ended up on McGrosso's windshield, and Sandel was thrown more than 100 feet, the prosecutor said.

McGrosso also suffered major injuries when her Toyota Yaris struck the victims.

At the hospital, McGrosso's blood-alcohol level was measured at .12 percent, Bright said.

Bright said McGrosso admitted that she had a prior DUI conviction when she was 17 and had attended six months of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.