After hearing a plea for leniency from the victim’s family, a judge today sentenced two men to one year in county jail for engaging in an illegal street race that killed a 23-year-old San Jose woman in 2011, a deputy district attorney said. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Rene Navarro sentenced Vincent Mergonoto and Chandra Purnama to a year in county jail instead of state prison after reading a letter from the victim’s family requesting a lesser punishment, Deputy District Attorney Michel Amaral said. The judge considered the wishes of Ashley Nicole Krieger’s family, who had bonded emotionally with members of Mergonoto’s family during mediation of a civil case brought by Krieger’s survivors, Amaral said.
Mergonoto, 20, and Chandra, 26, were sentenced after being convicted for vehicular manslaughter in the March 20, 2011, crash at the intersection of Kiely Boulevard and Butte Street in Santa Clara in which Krieger suffered fatal injuries. After an investigation, the Santa Clara Police Department brought evidence to court showing that the two men had been racing illegally northbound on Kiely Boulevard at about 10:55 p.m., Amaral said. Police said that Mergonoto, of San Jose, was driving a black Mercedes Benz and Purnama, of San Francisco, a yellow Chevrolet Corvette before Mergonoto slammed almost head-on into Krieger’s black Honda Civic. Amaral said that prior to the collision, Krieger had pulled out of a parking lot and made a left turn onto Kiely as the two men raced toward Butte Street.
Mergonoto apparently saw Krieger’s car and had he continued forward he probably would have missed Krieger but while attempting to turn away he ran into her at a speed of between 80 mph and 88 mph, Amaral said. Santa Clara police studied the crash and gave the prosecution “one of the best recreations I have ever seen” that made it “a dead bang case” and helped lead the defendants to plead guilty, Amaral said. The question came over the length of the sentence and whether the men should serve time in state prison while the civil case by Krieger’s family proceeded to mediation, he said. The mediation ended with an undisclosed monetary settlement paid by Mergonoto’s family, Krieger’s family then asked the judge for leniency in sentencing and the judge complied by sending the men to county jail, Amaral said.
That the two men were both college students without prior criminal records also influenced the court to consider a lighter punishment, Amaral said. Purnama was also convicted of a felony charge of false impersonation for trying to give police a fake name at the time of his arrest, but the judge decided not to add time to his sentence, Amaral said.
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