A Windsor man convicted of killing five family members in a fiery rear-end collision on Highway 101 was sentenced Wednesday to four years in state prison.
Ryan O'Dell Karr, 29, received the minimum term for the Jan. 19, 2007 crash that happened as he sped through rush-hour traffic under the influence of marijuana.
Killed were Edith Carlos Medina, 23; her son, Fernando Flores Carlos, 7; her grandmother, Maria Lopez Camacho, 54; and her aunt Almadelia Mendera-Basurto, 16, all of Windsor; and her aunt Carmina Solorio, 23, of Mexico.
Medina's then 4-year-old son, Christian Flores, was pulled from the flames and suffered burns over 70 percent of his body and lost part of his leg, arm and an ear.
Remaining family members, including the now 8-year-old boy, were in court Wednesday. A victim's advocate read a statement from Camacho's daughter, Daney Flores, who asked Karr be given the maximum sentence of six years, eight months in prison.
"He took what we most loved and today we need the most," Flores said in her statement. "My mother was the joy of our family. She was the one who supported us and kept the family together."
As she left the courtroom, Flores said only that she was not happy with outcome.
Prosecutor Victoria Shanahan also asked Judge Rene Chouteau for the maximum prison term. Karr was convicted in January of five counts of felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Toxicology reports showed trace amounts of cocaine in his system.
But Chouteau assigned the lower term, citing Karr's age and lack of a serious record. Karr had a prior felony conviction for possession of stolen property, eight speeding tickets from 1999 to 2006 and one citation for following too close. Probation recommended the mid-term of four years and eight months.
He will be eligible for release in about 2-1/2 years.
Shanahan said the sentence was inconsistent with other similar cases in which defendants received more time for killing fewer people.
Before sentencing, Karr's lawyer, Andy Martinez, asked Chouteau to reduce the latest felonies to misdemeanors and give Karr probation. He said trial testimony raised questions about whether Karr was truly impaired or driving erratically.
A juror wrote to the court, asking for leniency, and the judge once pressed prosecutors to reduce the charges down, Martinez said.
Martinez said Karr was remorseful, despite testimony to the contrary. He had recently been found curled in a fetal position in his jail cell, crying about what he'd done. A probation report said he punched a wall and yelled, "I killed them!" and "I cannot stand it anymore."
Karr turned red and began sobbing as his lawyer spoke.
"He has suffered through this," Martinez said. "He doesn't need to be sent to prison to be reminded of what he's done."
Prosecutors said Maria Camacho and five family members were driving home from visiting another relative in the Sonoma County jail when they ran into congestion on the freeway near the Airport Boulevard overcrossing.
Karr, who was driving alone in a Mitsubishi Eclipse, came speeding up behind them, passing other cars at up to 72 mph. He was distracted for a moment and looked up to find traffic stopped.
He slammed into the back of Camacho's Honda Civic, which burst into flames. Passersby rescued the boy but the other were trapped inside.