Woman gets 6 years for causing fatal crash by running red light

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SAN DIEGO -- A woman who ran a red light at a Chollas View intersection, slamming into another car and killing its driver, was sentenced Tuesday to six years in state prison.

Jacqueline Castillo, 36, pleaded guilty to a vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence count for the March 18 death of Brenda Lee, 62.

Castillo ran a red light at 2:30 p.m. that day at the intersection of 47th Street and Hilltop Drive and T-boned Lee's vehicle.

San Diego police initially reported that Lee ran the red light, but Castillo was eventually charged in September with causing the crash.

At her arraignment, prosecutors alleged Castillo claimed she was being chased by someone prior to the crash. Amphetamines, oxycodone and marijuana were found in her system, according to prosecutors, though Deputy District Attorney Frederick Washington Jr said there wasn't enough evidence to charge Castillo with DUI.

She was also driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash, but the circumstances behind her license suspension were not disclosed.

A tearful Castillo wanted to make a statement during her sentencing hearing, but was advised by her attorney not to address the court due to a pending wrongful death lawsuit filed against her by Lee's son.

The victim's son, 43-year-old Myrell Johns, told the court he was his mother's only child and that she also filled a motherly role for her three siblings after their mother passed away just a year earlier.

"If there's one positive that I can get out of this sentencing today, it's that it does prove and clear my mother's good name," Johns said.

The family members said they drive through that intersection on a regular basis, which is in a school zone and only blocks from Lee's home.

Lee's brothers, Ronnie and Willie Lee, said they knew there was no chance their sister -- "a very careful and very safe driver" -- was the person at fault.

Ronnie Lee told Castillo, "In my heart, I know that you didn't intend to kill my sister that day. But you made some choices and life is about the choices that we make and being accountable for the choices that we make."

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