Judge turns 1-year term into 60 days

Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

Woman pleaded guilty to a DUI with injuries

A local woman began serving 60 days in the county jail last week after a judge reduced her one-year sentence.

Sarah L. Williams, 27, accepted a plea deal on a charge of driving under the influence causing injury after a one-car crash that injured her and two daughters, 6 and 11.

She was sentenced May 17 by Judge Philip Schafer to serve a year in jail.

That decision came after the District Attorney's Office successfully argued for the jail term during a sentencing hearing.

Schafer ordered Williams to turn herself in within a week after the

May 17 sentencing. Instead, she was called back to court on the judge's

own motion to review the sentencing.

Schafer did not return a telephone message left with his secretary to explain why he decided to reconsider the sentence.

At the review, Williams gave an emotional plea to the court that

she hadn't understood she was going to spend a year in jail. Two people

spoke on her behalf.

Schafer then reduced the sentence to 60 days and gave the option

for it to be served through home detention if the sheriff approved,

according to District Attorney Jon Alexander.

Ultimately, she was booked into the jail.

At the time of the original sentencing, Williams seemed to understand the term, Alexander said.

"The people and probation did strenuously object given the facts,"

of the case, said Alexander. "I have the ultimate respect for Judge

Schafer, but in this business, you're bound to have disagreements and

this is one of those times."

On Aug. 2, Williams was driving south on Lower Lake Road near

Morehead at a high rate of speed when she lost control of her SUV,

authorities said.

Her car went off the edge of the road, hit a fence and overturned, landing on its roof.

The collision with the fence ejected Williams' 6-year-old daughter from the vehicle.

Williams, the girl, and a second daughter, 11, were transported to Sutter Coast Hospital after the wreck.

Williams and her 11-year-old daughter suffered major injuries and

the 6-year-old daughter moderate injuries, authorities said at the time.

It was determined Williams was driving with a blood-alcohol content

of .22, almost three times the legal limit of .08, after drinking at a

friend's house before getting behind the wheel, according to court

documents.

"If you're going to drive that impaired at that time of night, we

are going to be seeking harsh penalties," said Alexander, adding that

the law is also allowed to serve as a deterrent.

"I believe strongly that it has a reverse effect when you have

insignificant sentences. I think it sends the wrong message that people

can walk away with impunity."

Reach Anthony Skeens at askeens@triplicate.com .

14030125
The Del Norte Triplicate
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Thursday September 29, 2016

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