Fresno woman agrees to plea deal in fatal hit-and-run DUI crash case

There was a change of heart and plea for a woman who hit and killed a young construction worker while driving drunk.
April 21, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a change of heart and plea for a Fresno woman who hit and killed a young construction worker while driving drunk. Regan Johnson died while working on a road project along Highway 99 near Clinton nearly two years ago.

Alyssa Villanueva admitted she drove drunk and took the life of Johnson, and then left the scene. On Monday, her attorney said she didn't want to put Johnson's family through any more pain, so she agreed to a sentence of 17 years in prison.

At times, Villanueva sobbed Monday when she accepted responsibility for a fatal hit-and-run DUI crash in July 2012. According to prosecutors, Villanueva had been drinking with a friend before she struck and killed Johnson, then drove home. Johnson was working on a highway repaving project when she was hit.

"I can tell you just from my talk with her that there's never a day that Regan isn't on her mind in some fashion, not because Alyssa is sitting where she is sitting, but she knows the harm and heartbreak that she has caused that family," said Martin Taleisnik, Villanueva's attorney.

Outside court, the victim's family cried and hugged. Two dozen friends and family members attended the hearing and wore memorial buttons honoring the 24 year old. Regan's family says they are satisfied with the punishment and grateful Villanueva is taking accountability for the crash, but they are still devastated and have a deep void.

Villanueva's attorney said the mother of three will also miss out on the rest of her own kids' childhood.

"She entered a deal which basically will have her serve 17 years, 4 months and 85 percent of that time. Two of the charges that she pled to are strike offenses under the three-strikes law and effectively that probably leaves her about 14 1/2 years," said Taleisnik.

According to crash reports, Villanueva never reported the collision. The next morning, officers were tipped off to an apartment complex where the wrecked car was parked and covered. One officer testified when he asked her if she knew why he was there, she responded, "because my car is totaled and someone died on the freeway."

Alyssa Villanueva will be sentenced next month. Several members of the victim's family plan to speak at that time.


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