An Orangevale woman who pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while driving intoxicated in the traffic death of a 6-year-old boy last year in Citrus Heights was sentenced today to 15 years in state prison.
Tresa Bales-Sterba apologized to the family of Henry Perez-Rocha, who was struck in the crosswalk at Greenback Lane and Mariposa Avenue while walking to school. But Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurel D. White said she would still impose the maximum term "to convey to others that there are consequences for bad judgment as illustrated in this case."
Bales-Sterba, 53, was under the influence of methamphetamine and an assortment of other drugs when she ran a red light on westbound Greenback last Oct. 5, was struck in the intersection by a southbound vehicle on Mariposa and then spun into the intersection and struck Henry and his older brother.
Defense lawyer Jeffrey E. Thoma asked the judge to sentence his client to an 11-year term, but Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Macy said that Bales-Sterba qualified for the maximum. The prosecutor said that 10 days before the fatal accident, Bales-Sterba had been pulled over by Citrus Heights police and warned after a firefighter reported that she had been weaving in traffic.
Bales-Sterba told police she had a medical condition that led to her driving difficulties, and she was able to pass her field sobriety tests, according to her probation report. But the incident put Bales-Sterba on notice that she shouldn't be driving, Macy said.
Jose Perez, the father of the boy who was killed, said after the sentencing, "We are not satisfied," by the 15-year sentence, "but the good thing is that at least justice was served."
PHOTO CREDIT: Henry Perez-Rocha's aunts, Odilia Rocha, left, and Rosalinda Rocha stand outside the courtroom. Andy Furillo, Sacramento Bee