Family calls sentencing in DUI crash that killed 3-year-old on I-680 an injustice

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- The woman who struck and killed a three-year-old boy in a DUI crash on Interstate 680 was sentenced in a plea deal Friday. Despite protests from the victim's family she'll likely serve only a fraction of her seven-year sentence.

Investigators say 40-year-old Yarenit Malihan was out on bail in a pending DUI case and under the influence of drugs when she crashed her SUV into a car stalled on the shoulder of Interstate 680 in San Ramon. The September 2016 collision killed three-year-old Elijah Dunn, injured his mother Crystal Manoiki, and emotionally scarred two other children in the car.

RELATED: Woman charged with manslaughter in San Ramon DUI crash

"We'll all have to be in counseling for the rest of our lives probably," said Elijah's grandmother Christina Estrada. "She left a huge, horrible impact on my entire family and after two years she's just going to go on with her life."

Malihan pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter with a multiple victim enhancement. She gave a tearful apology in court Friday. As part of her plea deal, she'll only serve half of her sentence. She's already in custody, which means she'll get credit for time served. She could be out as early as 2020.

"That's not justice, that's just you got a slap on the hand," said Estrada.

Malihan is married to an Alameda County deputy, but the district attorney's office has said that has nothing to do with the cause.

When asked about the charges Deputy Prosecutor Alison Chandler wrote this response:

"The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office has an ethical responsibility to file charges supported by evidence that can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence in this case warranted the filing of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated charges, not murder charges. The District Attorney's Office and the California Highway Patrol continued investigation throughout this case, and the charges were brought based on the entirety of the evidence."

Prosecutors say they charged vehicular manslaughter based on the evidence in the case.

"The family wanted a second-degree murder charge just like numerous, numerous other cases in the Bay Area," said the Dunn family attorney, Jeff Hubins.

After the deadly crash, Malihan was arrested a third time for being drunk in public. Now, the family says they'll lobby to change the DUI sentencing guidelines.

"With every ounce of my body I'm going to make it happen in his honor," said Estrada.
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