A drunken driver was sentenced Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court to 18 years and eight months in prison for killing two people, including a drug-and-alcohol counselor.
Jose Calderon, 26, said he was sorry for his actions and was ready to take full responsibility for killing Kenneth Klein, 54, of Clovis and his girlfriend, Jeri Lyn Perry, 52, of San Jose.
"I'm ashamed for what I have done," Calderon said, addressing the family and friends of the victims. "I hope and pray that you can find in your hearts to forgive me one day."
On April 28, Calderon pleaded no contest to two counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit and run causing death.
Never miss a local story.
At Wednesday's hearing, attorney Vijay Dinakar, who represented Calderon, sought a sentence recommended by the Probation Department – 14 years and eight months in prison.
Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Baldovi, however, wanted the maximum penalty of 18 years and eight months, saying Calderon had a blood-alcohol level of 0.22%, or nearly three times the legal limit to drive, when he rear-ended Klein's motorcycle on McKinley Avenue near Blackstone Avenue on April 16 last year.
Calderon also was speeding and had smoked marijuana, Baldovi said. After the crash, he drove off and abandoned his car, but police captured him later that night.
Klein died of his injuries three days later. Perry, a passenger on the motorcycle, died May 7.
Family and friends of the two victims also wanted the maximum sentence.
They said Klein had devoted his life to helping recovering addicts and alcoholics by being a counselor for Madera County Behavioral Health Services and Kings View Community Services. Two hours before the collision, he was helping people in a DUI program, they said.
Perry, a former drug addict and alcoholic, had been clean and sober for 19 years in order to raise her teenage son, said her sister, Marla Hartley, 61.
"She was my sister and best friend," Hartley said.
She then raised a glass frame filled with photographs of Perry and showed it to Calderon.
"This is who you killed," Hartley said.
Calderon wiped a tear from his face as Hartley spoke.
Judge Jon Nick Kapetan agreed with the prosecution, saying Calderon's "crime amounted to great violence."
He noted for the record that if Calderon had used "another instrument" to kill the two victims, he would have faced a much longer prison sentence.
Afterward, Hartley said she felt sorry for Calderon, who is married and has children.
"I think he is truly sorry for what he did," Hartley said. "He not only devastated us, but he hurt his own family as well."