A San Jose man who pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving was given the maximum sentence in Merced County Superior Court last week.
On May 31, Judge Harry Jacobs told a packed courtroom that there was no way he could fix what happened because the lives of the families of the victims and the defendant's families will never be the same again.
"This is a tragedy that will go down through the generations. There are no winners in this. There are all losers," Jacobs said.
The judge sentenced Ali Farsad, 68, to 12 years in prison and ordered him to pay $1.4 million in restitution.
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The 2002 Ford Explorer Farsad was driving the wrong way in October on eastbound Highway 152, west of Highway 33, crashed head-on into a Ford F-150 in which Alicia Carranza, 35, and Sara Castro, 30, were passengers.
Farsad later pleaded no contest to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, as well as driving under the influence, felony DUI causing injury, misdemeanor driving under the influence of a controlled substance and misdemeanor being under the influence of a controlled substance.
Prosecutors were exploring murder charges against Farsad , which could have resulted in a life sentence if he were convicted. Rather than wait for prosecutors to file those amended charges, Farsad pleaded to vehicular manslaughter.
Farsad's lawyer expressed his client's condolences to the court before sentencing. Carranza's three children and one grandchild stood in the back of the Robert M. Falasco Justice Center courtroom as the family's attorney read a letter by the eldest daughter, Tania Ivette Bibiano Carranza.
"There will never be another Happy Christmas. Mr. Farsad took away what we love most in this world -- our mom," she read. "When my brother told me she had died, my world came crashing down. I wanted to die."
No one from Castro's family spoke in court.
Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby said Farsad had a DUI conviction in 2008 in which part of his punishment was to take a course on the perils of such actions.
Colby said Farsad was driving on the wrong side of the highway at 75 mph.
"This is a defendant who should have known better," Colby said.
Renee Yvonne Gardner, the Carranza family's attorney, agreed with Colby.
"He didn't care," she said. "Sadly, he walked away without a scratch."
Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at email@example.com.