Unlicensed Fresno driver who killed 5 gets no jail time

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A family with so much to grieve suffered another blow in court. (KFSN)

A family with so much to grieve suffered another blow in court. The unlicensed driver who ran a stop sign and caused a fiery crash -- killing a mother and four children -- will not go to jail for her crime.

"We're not happy with the sentence, but now it's time for us to move on and start the healing process," said Martha Moreno, who is sister and aunt to the victims.

The crash happened on Valentine's Day of last year and resulted in a misdemeanor manslaughter conviction. Esmeralda Saucedo died alongside her children Isaac, Nikko, Jada and Breanna.

The victim's family members are struggling to move on from their tragedy and the punishment for the woman who caused it didn't help.

Juana Bejarano walked out of court Tuesday a free woman. 14 months ago, she drove without a license, ran a stop sign and wiped out an entire family: Esmeralda, Breanna, Jada, Isaac and Nikko. The Saucedos are now pictures on a shirt, or names on a telephone pole memorial at the scene of the crash that killed them. The fact that Bejarano is free doesn't sit well with the family that lost so much.

"It's shocking that they figured she could just walk out and continue living her life like nothing ever happened and every day, we're reminded as we walk out of our house of the accident," said Maria Lopez, a sister and aunt to the victims.

Joe Saucedo saw it all happen. As his wife drove the kids, he drove an empty car, headed to pick up more kids for a party. Instead, he witnessed the fire that killed them all, unable to save them from the huge flames.

"How do you deal with that?" an Action News reporter asked him.

"Honestly, I don't even know how to answer that myself," he said.

For her part, Bejarano tried to apologize. She said she's also suffering every day.

"I ask this family to forgive me for causing them this pain," she said in her native Spanish.

But the victims' family members say the apology comes far too late and means little now. And, they say, Bejarano really has no idea about suffering.

"I saw your Facebook and while you celebrated Valentine's Day with your family -- as I saw you so happy on your Facebook page, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of their death," said Lizet Ybarra, a sister-in-law and aunt to the victims. "And though I have much more to say, and so much anger to hold onto and so much pain to cover up, I will leave this note as our family left us because of your negligence - unfinished."

Bejarano didn't walk away scot free, even though she won't go to jail. She got three months on an adult offender work program and three months on electronic monitoring. Her attorney says she should make it her mission to make it all up to the Saucedo family.




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