Cynthia Bradford keeps the cremated remains of her daughter, Taylor Little, and her unborn granddaughter, Concietta Little, in a mirrored box next to her bed. She’s spread some of those ashes in Mexico and Hawaii, places she thinks they would’ve liked to have visited.
She says it’s what she does to cope with the anguish. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when I run out of ashes,” Bradford said in court.
She told a judge that she has no words to accurately express the pain her family has suffered knowing her daughter and granddaughter died because of the reckless behavior of Little’s boyfriend, Demaria Harge.
“My family is not the same as we knew it,” Bradford explained Wednesday before Harge, 26, of Fairfield was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
A jury last month found Harge guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend and her unborn child for driving drunk and crashing after a high-speed police chase on Interstate 5 near Westley.
The defendant’s brother, Michael Harge, told the judge his brother should be held accountable, but the rest of his life shouldn’t be taken away for the 2014 crash. “There are still people out here who love him,” he said in court.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Rick Distaso could have sentenced Harge to 15 years to life in prison for each murder charge to run concurrently. But he chose not to. He said the sentences should run consecutively, because the deaths were caused solely by Harge’s reckless conduct.
The judge said the defendant had exhibited this type of dangerous behavior before with an extensive reckless driving record. Distaso said Harge had opportunities to prevent the deadly crash that day, but he didn’t.
He deserves the exact same compassion he showed Taylor Little that day.
Deputy District Attorney Anthony Colacito
Along with the murder charges, Harge was found guilty of gross-negligence vehicular manslaughter with intoxication, evading a police officer causing someone’s death, and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury.
The judge sentenced Harge to three years in prison for the DUI charge that will run concurrently. Harge was sentenced to 16 years for the remaining charges, but that sentence will be suspended.
The DUI charge stemmed from injuries Cally Gregory suffered in the deadly crash. Gregory, Little’s friend, was riding in the back seat of the brown Lexus sedan Harge was driving on April 24, 2014. She testified about the abuse Little suffered while trying to get her boyfriend to slow down.
Little, 24, of Rio Vista, was several months pregnant when the crash occurred. They were returning from Southern California that day.
Deputy District Attorney Anthony Colacito told the jury Harge was experiencing stomach pains, the result of opiate withdrawal, and got into a dispute with Little. He said the defendant was drinking from a Patron tequila bottle while driving that day after ingesting marijuana.
The prosecutor argued that Harge dragged his girlfriend into the car by her hair, and he was slapping her as he drove north after she repeatedly warned him to slow down.
Little sent text messages to her mother that afternoon, asking her to call 911. Little was hoping authorities would pull over her boyfriend and get him off the road. “He deserves the exact same compassion he showed Taylor Little that day,” Colacito told the judge before the sentence was handed down.
He never intended to take anyone’s life... It’s a tragic chain of events.
Deputy Public Defender Sophia Ahmad
Sophia Ahmad, Harge’s attorney, said her client deserved a concurrent sentence for the murder charges. She told the judge that Harge expressed genuine remorse in a letter he wrote to the court; concern for his girlfriend he showed moments after the crash when he begged for authorities to help her as an officer handcuffed him.
“He never intended to take anyone’s life,” Ahmad said in court. “It’s a tragic chain of events.”
California Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Peregoy was called to respond to a report of domestic violence in a car heading north on Interstate 5. The officer stopped under an overpass and waited about 40 minutes before he saw Harge’s brown Lexus speed by at 110 mph.
Peregoy testified that it took about 3 miles to get within a reasonable distance behind the speeding car. Then, he spotted the Lexus move more aggressively in and out of freeway lanes. The officer said the Lexus at one point reached 130 mph.
When Harge spotted the CHP vehicle following him, the defendant said “Oh, s---, I’m going to jail,” according to the prosecutor.
The Lexus veered to the right from the left lane before speeding down a ramp to the Howard Road/Ingram Creek Road exit. The Lexus then sideswiped a pickup before overturning onto its roof.
In Harge’s preliminary hearing last year, the prosecutor said he has a history of Solano County arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence, speeding and evading police. None of the cases ended in convictions because Harge failed to appear in court and face those charges.