A 47-year-old man pleaded guilty Friday, March 26, and was sentenced to four years in prison for killing a woman in an Irvine street race that prosecutors called fatal.
The jury was stuck 11: 1 for acquittal for the second degree murder of Patrick Le in February, leading to a plea for the defendant on Friday, July 3, 2018, the death of 43-year-old Carmella Van. Le pleaded guilty of gross manslaughter and was given credit for 1,000 days in custody.
Le apologized to the victim’s family in a statement from his attorney Brian Gurwitz.
“This letter is difficult to write and I am sure it is even more difficult to receive, but I have to tell you how sorry I am that Carmella Vann died,” Le said in the letter. “I wanted to let you know that I deeply regret the tragic event on July 3, 2018, when Carmella Vann went to her Lord in heaven.
“Although nothing can change what happened, I wanted you to know that I always regret this tragic event and that I wish it never happened. I do not ask for forgiveness, but please know that I feel a lot of pain and remorse, ”the statement said.
The victim’s father, Presley Vann, said in his statement on the victim’s impact in court that he had forgiven the defendant.
“Every day became more and more of a struggle,” said Presley Vann since his daughter’s death. “But here is the joy of it. Carmella was a born again Christian and she is with her Lord and one day I will see her. “
The victim’s husband, Jonathan Chance, described how they bonded through an affinity for 1980s songs. Once, when they were driving together and singing a song from the 80s on the radio, they walked into a mall and immediately heard the same song, which prompted Carmella Vann to say to her future husband, “I think I’m in trouble,” said he
Vann, who graduated from UC Irvine, left a 3 1/2 year old son.
Assistant District Attorney Janine Madera said in a lawsuit that Le drove an Acura RL and co-defendant Anthony Gabriel Valenzuela drove a Hyundai Veloster on Main Street and Red Hill Avenue in Irvine. A video from a shuttle bus captured the start of the race.
“When the light turns green, Le and Valenzuela quickly take off from the limit line and accelerate quickly,” wrote Madera.
Le eventually turned over the double yellow partition and into oncoming traffic, Madera claimed. The victim stepped on her vehicle’s brakes, but Le “never brakes,” claimed Madera. Le drove straight into the victim’s vehicle, hit her with his head, forcing her backwards. Her insides were torn apart and she died instantly, Madera said.
Gurwitz argued that Le was forced out of his trail by Valenzuela, who is awaiting trial for second degree murder.