Woman Who Drove Miles With Dying Man On Windshield Has Conviction Reversed
A California appeals court on Friday overturned the second-degree murder conviction of a woman who, while drunk, struck a man with her car and drove more than two miles with his body stuck in her car's windshield. Per the court, the original trial of Sherri Lynn Wilkins was unfair because prosecutors introduced her prior criminal history during court proceedings, potentially coloring the jury’s final opinion, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Though the court reversed her convictions for murder and driving under the influence of alcohol, prosecutors are allowed to retry the case, according to the Daily Breeze. The original trial awarded Wilkins a sentence of 55 years to life in prison.
In November of 2012, Wilkins struck and killed 31-year-old Phillip Moreno. Following the collision that was strong enough to knock off both Moreno’s shoes and pants, Wilkins continued to drive south along Crenshaw Boulevard with the dying man on her car’s windshield for two miles.
Wilkins pulled into a Torrance Gas station where other people, alarmed at what they saw, boxed in her vehicle with their own, according to the Awl. Paramedics rushed Moreno to the hospital, but the damage was irreversible; Moreno had lost too much blood by the time he got to the E.R. operating table.
When police officers searched her car following the hit-and-run, they discovered two mini-bottles of Absolute Vodka and a 40oz beer, along with a receipt showing they had all been purchased earlier that evening.
Of course, the crux of her defense rested on the argument that Wilkins had consumed the alcohol immediately before she began driving, and was therefore not drunk at the time of the collision.
“It is impossible” that Wilkins could have been drunk when her car struck Moreno’s because “there was not enough time for her body to metabolize the alcohol,” public defender Nan Whitfield argued in January of 2014.
When police administered a breathalyzer test at the gas station, her blood alcohol level was .17, more than twice the legal limit.
The great irony of this case is that Wilkins herself worked as a drug and alcohol addiction counselor at Twin Towns Treatment Center. Before her work as a counselor, Wilkins herself had been a both a heroin addict and an alcoholic. She cleaned up her act in 2006, went to college for addiction treatment, and landed a job doing just that before she killed Moreno with her car.