Drunk driver who killed two sentenced to 15 years

Posted at: 02/13/2014 5:21 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A woman who was found guilty of killing two people in a car accident while driving drunk was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday.

Stephanie Mendez argued she did not recall the night she got behind the wheel while being three times over the legal drinking limit.

But the family members of her two friends who died in the crash do remember and say it's time she was held responsible.

The hearing lasted for two-and-a-half hours, but for the families of the two victims in the car with Mendez, it's been a three-year wait.

Mendez caused a crash on I-25 near the Montano entrance ramp when she lost control of her car, hitting a van with a man and two children inside.

She then slammed into a divider wall, with the impact throwing four people out of her car, killing two.

The mother of 22-year-old Paul Esquibel, one of the two who were killed, took the stand and asked for the maximum penalty.

It took time for authorities to arrest Mendez because she stayed on the Navajo reservation where APD officers do not jurisdiction to search for her.

Since the crash, her lawyer, psychiatrist, and family member all say Mendez is a changed person and needs community service time, not time behind bars.

In the end, Mendez was handcuffed and taken to the Metropolitan Detention Center. She was sentenced to 15 years. Mendez says this is a sentence of regret.

Mendez can have her sentence shortened with good behavior.