Family members related to the husband and daughter of a woman convicted of killing them in a horrific drunken accident in 2012 today expressed their outrage at the defendant in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose. The family members directed their ire at Stacey Lonnberg, who was convicted by a jury July 30 of second-degree murder in the deaths of her husband Frederic Lonnberg, 57, and her daughter Tiffiny Gillette, 26, and of child endangerment. The two victims died in a rollover car crash on Jan. 14, 2012, as Lonnberg drove north in her pickup truck on state Highway 85 near Winchester Boulevard in Campbell after drinking seven to eight vodka drinks and ingesting the pain medication oxycodone, according to prosecutors. Lonnberg, 52, had been driving about 85 mph on the highway, weaving in and out of traffic, when her Toyota pickup hit another pickup truck, veered across other lanes and then flipped over six times, prosecutors said. Gillette was thrown from the Toyota and died on the highway. Frederic Lonnberg died later at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center after he was partially ejected and mortally injured after the pickup rolled over. Stacey Lonnberg and her then 14-month-old grandson, Ethan, who was also in the car, suffered only minor injuries. Ethan, now 3 years old, was Tiffiny’s son. In court this morning, Lonnberg sat in handcuffs, her long gray hair in a ponytail, looking forward as the family members spoke from a podium behind her before Santa Clara County Judge Ron Del Pozzo.
Adam Simms, who said that he and Gillette had been secretly married not long before the accident, read a text message, entered into the record during Lonnberg’s trial, where Lonnberg wrote to Tiffiny a day before accident, “You are dead to me. I’ll make sure it stays that way.” Simms said that he suffered a nervous breakdown and financial ruin after Tiffiny’s death, about which he said he was not informed until two days after the accident. “She killed me, too,” said Simms, his voice breaking, to the judge about the defendant. “She destroyed my life.” Jennifer Tole, Frederic Lonnberg’s daughter from a previous marriage, said on the day of the accident, she and her husband Craig were driving together when someone at the hospital called her on her cellphone to say her father had been “in a horrible automobile wreck.” As she and Craig sped to the hospital, a nurse called her again minutes later, saying that doctors would not be performing surgery on her father because he was not going to survive, Tole said. “I was screaming in the car, ‘I was losing my dad, and she killed him,'” Tole said. “I was never able to say goodbye and that haunts me everyday.” Stacey Lonnberg “has never been remorseful, she has never taken responsibility and we all have to deal with that,” Tole said. Ethan still tries to remember his dead grandfather, whom he calls “Pa Fred,” and has used a toy phone to say he was talking to him, Tole said.
In the months following the accident, Stacey Lonnberg had a friend granted power of attorney over her and Frederic’s assets and the person left many “nasty” phone messages to Tole about paying her father’s bills, even on Father’s Day, Tole said. Lonnberg’s stepson, Curtis Lonnberg, told her that he looked up to her “as a mother figure growing up” and despite Stacey Lonnberg’s long-term drinking problems, Frederic “never gave up on you” and worked to help support her efforts as an artist. Curtis said he did not believe Lonnberg’s statements that a minute before the accident she tried to wake Frederic but he was “unconscious” and that Tiffiny was ejected because she was not wearing her safety belt. Tiffiny died “because you drove homicidal that day,” Curtis said. After the accident, while Lonnberg stood by with minor injuries, Ethan, “was able to get out of his car seat and walk into traffic,” Curtis said. “The people in our lives lost so much that day, and yet you continue to look no worse for wear,” he said. “A little boy lost his mom, never to be seen again. Theoretically, I guess that makes two of us.” “It’s been 21 months and to this day you have never shown true remorse or guilt for what you have done,” Curtis said. “No apology, no phone call, no contact, nothing.” Del Pozzo, addressing Curtis, said that the account Stacey Lonnberg gave to authorities about the last minute before the crash was “unbelievable.”
Lonnberg’s allegation that it was Tiffiny who provided her with the oxycodone she took indicated that the defendant was “clearly looking out for herself,” Del Pozzo said. During Lonnberg’s trial in July, an expert witness for the prosecution testified that her blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was about .20, more than twice the legal limit for drunkenness. Lonnberg’s defense attorney Javier Rios today asked for a separate hearing to argue his case for a lenient sentence for his client. Deputy District Attorney Matt Braker said he wants Lonnberg sentenced to 15 years to life, as has been recommended by the county Parole and Probation Department. Del Pozzo set a hearing for Nov. 8 to hear Rios’ arguments before he imposes a sentence.
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