Teen driver in fatal hit-and-run crash to learn fate Friday
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume Friday for
a 19-year-old woman who drank and smoked marijuana before a hit-and-run crash
on an Ocean Beach freeway that left an aspiring engineer dead.
Nikolette Kristina Gallo faces anywhere from probation to four years in
prison for causing the March 11 death of 23-year-old Sho Funai, who was
studying for his master's degree in engineering at UC San Diego.
On Thursday, the victim's father, Yuji, testified that the defendant was
not remorseful and was trying to escape responsibility for his son's death.
“We need to send the right message,” he told Judge Dwayne Moring. “It
is not OK to kill somebody and run away.”
Gallo pleaded guilty last month to felony hit-and-run causing death and
a misdemeanor count of being a minor in possession of alcohol.
The defendant was taken into custody at her home nearly eight hours
after a passer-by found the victim's body alongside Interstate 8, just east of
Nimitz Boulevard, said California Highway Patrol Officer Art Athans.
Family and friends said Funai had a habit of walking home to avoid
drinking and driving. He was new to Ocean Beach and apparently lost his way the
night he was killed. Prosecutor Rebecca Zipp said the victim had a blood-
alcohol level of .17 percent when he was hit.
Gallo told investigators she had just dropped off a friend in the beach
area and was on her way home when she hit what she thought was a discarded sofa
or a coyote.
The next morning, she saw news coverage of the pedestrian fatality and
told her father she feared she may have been the motorist involved, Athans
said. They contacted an attorney, who got in touch with the CHP and said
investigating officers could meet with his clients at the Gallo home.
There, they got a statement from the teenager, who admitted to drinking
prior to the accident, and they inspected her 2007 Toyota Camry, which had
significant front-end damage, according to Athans.
Defense attorney Paul Pfingst said the victim was walking in the middle
of the road when he was hit by Gallo.