Justin Rice sentenced to 96-years to life after deadly DUI crash

A Madera County Judge sentenced Justin Rice to 96-years to life for a 2009 crash that killed three Chukchansi casino workers.
January 24, 2014 10:58:12 AM PST
More than five years after a triple fatal accident family member say justice has finally been served. Justin Rice got a life sentence in exchange for the lives he took. A judge sentenced Rice to 96 years in prison. He was driving under the influence when he slammed into a car carrying three Chukchansi casino workers in 2009.

Three mothers were in that car on their way to work when the accident happened. Their family members said they are happy and say they have been waiting a long time for justice to be served.

It was 2009, and broad daylight, when Rice slammed his truck into a car. The impact killed three women and injured two others who were on their way to work at Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino.

A Madera County Judge says the case was never about intent it was always about consequences.

"There are really no winners, the damage has already been done," Assistant District Attorney Miguel Valdovinos said.

Justin Rice was driving under the influence of methamphetamine when the accident happened. He was later convicted of nine counts including three of second degree murder. The Madera County District Attorney's office says justice has been done and they hope the families can move forward.

"It's hard for me to describe the pain this man has caused. We didn't ask for this, he brought this to us. All we ask is for justice," one of the victims' family members told the judge.

They have waited a long time for this final piece of closure. Five years after the horrific accident, Rice quietly listened as the judge sent him to state prison for life, after serving a minimum of 96 years.

"It's a pretty tremendous and lengthy prison sentence. I don't think Mr. Rice has any realistic expectation of ever getting out of prison," Defense attorney Martin Jones said.

The case has had many twists and turns since 2009. At one point there was a possibility of a new trial. Since then Justin Rice's sentencing has been postponed and rescheduled before finally culminating with today's outcome.

"It is an emphasis we're putting at the DA's office to make sure these cases don't get that old and sometimes you can make that happen and other times things happen along the prosecution that are beyond your control," Valdovinos said.

Justin Rice's defense attorneys said he has always been remorseful. He does have the right to appeal that life sentence.

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