The defendant admitted to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for killing 77-year-old Donald Fisher, 74-year-old Arlene Fisher, and 55-year-old Brian Fisher nine months ago.
Manuel Casillas says he can't remember what happened, but his lawyer says he knows why -- and it has nothing to do with the prescription drugs he was taking.
The violent collision that left Casillas in a wheelchair did a lot more damage to the Fisher family.
"In one swoop, he took three beautiful people from our community and from our lives," said Margo Fisher, a daughter-in-law to the elder Fishers.
The family was well known for charity work in the Coalinga community -- at the R.C. Baker Memorial Museum and the thrift shop.
Casillas admitted he caused the accident that killed them and that he was taking four prescription drugs at the time -- all for back pain.
His wife says he sold newspapers for Kids Day that morning, then left to take his daughters to school.
"He was stable," said Lilia Casillas. "He was able to drive fine. There was nothing different, so I allowed him to take my daughter to school."
Minutes later, Manuel Casillas drifted into oncoming traffic on Jensen Ave. and hit the Fishers. But at his sentencing for the crime, Judge Ralph Nunez set him free on probation.
A doctor's report saying Casillas may have suffered an epileptic seizure while driving convinced Judge Nunez a jury might've found him not guilty. But the fisher family is not convinced.
"Mr. Casillas claims to have no recollection of the accident," said Wayne Fisher, who lost his parents and his brother. "Deep down, I think he really knows, but the bottom line is he was there. He shouldn't have been there and had he not been there, my parents might still be here."
Casillas cried several times in court as he listened to the Fishers pour out their hearts about the family they've lost. And in the end, he asked them for the same compassion from them as he got from the judge.
"I just hope they can find some peace in their hearts and they can forgive me some day," he said. "I'm sorry." Casillas will get out of jail Friday night.
He's never been convicted of a crime before, but from now on, if he kills someone in a DUI, he can be charged with murder.NEWS BY LOCATION | ABC30 BLOGS | DISCUSSION FORUMS
BECOME A FAN ON FACEBOOK | FOLLOW ABC30 ON TWITTER