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Sentence begins in fatal car accident

A Modesto housewife who was naked and in the midst of a mental health crisis when she caused a fatal car crash was taken into custody this morning, to begin serving a 90-day sentence.

Danise McFadden hoped to avoid time behind bars by getting a spot in a work or home detention program, but the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department turned her application down and denied two appeals.

Her attorney then sought relief from the Superior Court, saying the mother of four is getting a disproportionately tough sentence because her case made headlines, but Judge Ricardo Cordova could not be persuaded to change McFadden’s sentence to community service or delay her surrender.

“I am going to order that Ms. McFadden be remanded to the custody of the sheriff at this time,” Cordova said.

McFadden’s original surrender of July 16 had been extended to Aug. 13 to Aug. 27 to Monday as litigation ensued.

This time, the judge asked the county counsel’s office, which represents the sheriff’s department, and the district attorney’s office, which prosecuted McFadden, to respond to a writ filed last week. The judge said he will rule on the matter after he reviews all of the arguments.

But he also said McFadden must begin serving her sentence. She choked back tears as bailiffs led her from the courtroom.

A psychiatrist previously told the court that McFadden was suffering from a rapidly onsetting mental illness when she plowed her pickup into a truck that was stopped at Claus Road and Briggsmore Avenue at 3 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2005.

She was traveling 74 mph when she rear-ended Catalino Sanchez Astorga, who died in the hospital three weeks later, leaving behind a wife, four children and two grandchildren.

A jury found McFadden guilty of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, but acquitted her of a felony charge prosecutors had filed.

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