A 19-year Sonoma State University student who killed a toddler and injured her mother when she hit them in a Rohnert Park crosswalk while texting and driving was sentenced Wednesday to five days in jail.
Kaitlyn Elisabeth Dunaway also was ordered by Judge Bradford DeMeo to serve 115 days on electronic home confinement, perform 200 hours of community service and surrender her driver's license for one year.
The punishment came during an emotional hearing for Dunaway, who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in the death of 2-year-old Calli Murray.
"If there was anything I could do to take back what happened here, to take away the pain, I would do it," Dunaway said in a tearful apology to Murray family members gathered for the sentencing.
Dunaway, who was free on bail, left the courtroom without further comment. She was ordered to turn herself in to the jail on Dec. 27.
DeMeo said Dunaway would be permitted to attend college classes and could serve home confinement on weekends and during holidays. As part of her community service, she will speak to high school students and others about the perils of distracted driving.
Dunaway, who was a star volleyball player at Petaluma HighSchool, is no longer on SSU's volleyball team, said her lawyer, Chris Andrian.
Before Dunaway was sentenced members of the Murray family spoke about the emotional and physical pain they suffered from the Dec. 1, 2010 crash.
The toddler's mother, Ling Murray, was not in the audience, but she said in a letter read to the judge that Dunaway "turned our life from sunshine to darkness."
Murray keeps her daughter's room the way it was before she was killed and often sits among the toys and pictures, telling her "I love you."
The mother, who is still undergoing physical therapy for numerous broken bones, asked that Dunaway serve a year in jail, the maximum possible sentence.
"After all, she killed a sweet little girl," Murray said in the letter. "She has sentenced me to a lifetime of grief."
The toddler's father, Jeff Murray, also called for a longer sentence, saying he worried about the message five days would sent to others who might text and drive.
But the girl's grandfather, Al Andres, sounded a more conciliatory tone and asked for her support in strengthening laws to reduce distracted driving.
"Ms. Dunaway, you will never know the pain you have caused this family," Andres said. "However, it is important for you to know that we forgive you."
The sentencing capped nearly a year of legal proceedings in what DeMeo called a "very, very, very tragic case."
It started with the early evening crash on Snyder Lane that prosecutors said happened as Dunaway was driving and writing a text message to a friend she was picking up.
Prosecutor Craig Brooks said Dunaway was texting that she was "almost there" when she struck Calli and Ling Murray in the crosswalk near Medical Center Drive.
Witnesses reported she was looking down at the time of the crash.
"There was texting going on up to the intersection," Brooks said outside court. "She was talking to her friend. It started with the word &‘almost' and then there was gibberish."
Dunaway admitted texting. But her attorney pointed to a crash analysis by Rohnert Park police that concluded the accident was pedestrian-caused. The finding was disputed in separate investigation by an expert for the District Attorney's office.