Despite a plea for leniency by the dead victim's parents, a judge Tuesday sentenced two young men who killed Ashley Krieger in a Santa Clara street-racing crash to 364 days in jail each.
"Given the circumstances...with the loss of life, (they) deserve time in custody,'' said Judge Rene Navarro, his only comment during the brief hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Krieger, 23, had just left her job at a bowling alley about 10:30 p.m. on March 20, 2011, when her Honda was struck by a Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 driven by Vincent Mergonoto of San Jose.
Mergonoto, then 19, was racing a friend, Chandra Purnama, 25, of San Francisco, who was driving a rented Corvette. Both were traveling at speeds of 80-88 mph on Kiely Boulevard, prosecutor Michel Amaral said.
The sentence was a compromise of sorts. The men faced a maximum of six years in state prison on charges of felony speeding and causing injury. And the prosecutor wanted at least some prison time.
But the men avoided it partly by taking responsibility early for the crash, which involved no alcohol or drugs, and by hiring competent private attorneys. The parties agreed to have the judge decide.
The key factor in Navarro's decision was a Feb. 22 letter from Ashley Krieger's parents, Lance and Lori Krieger, Amaral said.
The couple were devastated by their only child's sudden, tragic death. But they asked Navarro to sentence Mergonoto, the driver who hit Ashley, to
The request came after Mergonoto's family agreed to settle a civil lawsuit with the Kriegers, the terms of which remain confidential. Neither were at the sentencing and declined to comment.
The couple wrote that they grieve for their daughter "every day and every night. Her loss and these criminal proceedings have taken a heavy toll on us, physically and emotionally."
But they also added that "Vincent and his entire family expressed their sincerest apologies'' and noted the young man accepted responsibility for the tragedy.
"We are in the process,'' they said, "of forgiving Vincent in our hearts.''
Contact Tracey Kaplan at (408) 278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport.