MIAMI (CBS4) – A former University of Miami student who killed a woman in a deadly DUI crash two years ago has escaped a stiffer penalty.
During a hearing Wednesday, 20-year old Ivanna Villanueva was lead away in handcuffs to begin three years in a youthful offender facility as part of deal worked out with prosecutors.
But it could have gone another way.
Villanueva turned herself in Tuesday to begin her time at the facility. As part of the process, she was required to take a drug test. Villanueva was unable to complete the first test.
She was able to complete a second test, but the result tested positive for amphetamines.
“It would’ve been a violation had they been illegal drugs but they were not. These were prescribed medications under healthcare and under doctors orders,” said Villanueva’s attorney Jorge Hernandez-Torano.
At a hearing on Wednesday the judge was presented with a full analysis of the test result and Villanueva’s family produced a note from her doctor which stated that he prescribed her the medication for ADHD. If Villanueva had failed to pass the drug test, she would have been looking at 15 years.
In addition to the three years, Villanueva will serve 15 years of probation and perform a thousand hours of community service for the deadly 2011 accident which claimed the life of Eyder Ayala. She will also have to make a donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving on the anniversary of Ayala’s death.
Members of Ayala’s family were in the courtroom when the judge ruled that Villanueva would serve the reduced sentence.
“It doesn’t change the fact that my mothers not here. It doesn’t bring her back in any way shape or form,” said Brenda Vasquez.
“Hopefully the message gets out there that drinking and driving kills people in our community and it should stop,” said Ayala’s grandson-in-law Anwar Sadeek.
“You know, we just miss our grandmother very much. It’s a sad day for both families and our road to recovery continues for both families,” said Ayala’s grand-daughter Bernadette Sadeek.
The accident occurred at the intersection of LeJeune Road and Majorca Avenue. Villanueva was driving at a high rate of speed when she slammed into the rear Ayala’s car. The impact from the crash was so severe that Ayala’s trunk was pushed into the front seat. Ayala, a mother to five and grandmother to seven, died at the scene.
Ayala was going home from work. She was an Assistant Manager at a McDonald’s restaurant at SW 42nd Ave. and SW 9th St. and had worked there for 20 years.
Toxicology tests showed Villanueva’s blood alcohol content was .231, nearly triple the legal limit of .08.
In court, shortly after the accident, a prosecutor said Villanueva had used fake identification papers to get into Club Liv on Miami Beach.
Ayala’s family has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Villanueva and her father, saying he is liable for her conduct. The multi-million dollar lawsuit claims Villanueva was “speeding, negligent and reckless” on the night of the accident.