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Woman who helped cover up hit-and-run death of Clovis Unified administrator sentenced

Woman who helped cover up Gavin Gladding’s death sentenced

Susan Gladding, widow of Gavin Gladding, speaks on the sentencing of Fernanda Jakeline Lopez.
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Susan Gladding, widow of Gavin Gladding, speaks on the sentencing of Fernanda Jakeline Lopez.

Fernanda Jakeline Lopez, the teenager charged as an accessory in the hit-and-run death of Clovis Unified administrator Gavin Gladding, was sentenced Wednesday to 210 days in jail.

Lopez, 18, was a passenger in the truck that killed Gladding, 43, while he was jogging on Friant Road in the early morning hours of Sept 16. After the accident, she and boyfriend Rogelio Alvarez Maravilla( the driver) failed to report it and later paid for the truck’s broken windshield to be repaired.

In handing down his sentence, Superior Court Judge Michael Idiart said not stopping to find out what or who was struck by the vehicle was reprehensible in itself. Trying to hide evidence of a crime, he said, is even worse.

But Idiart also took into account Lopez’s lack of criminal history, plus support from her former teachers and her priest. “I believe the defendant is a good person, but there is an old saying that even good people do bad things,” Idiart said. “And that is what has happened here.”

Prior to her sentencing, Lopez read from a prepared statement in court. She said, in part, that she was sorry for what she did and wished she could go back and change her actions. She also was ready to accept responsibility for what she did. “I’m sorry for the tears that have been shed and the pain that has been caused,” Lopez said.

After Idiart’s ruling, Lopez was immediately taken into custody. Along with jail time, she will also have to serve three years of formal probation.

The Gladding family and about a dozen of their supporters filled nearly two rows of Idiart’s courtroom.

The family had urged the judge to send her to jail, saying the loss of their loved one has been devastating to them and the general community.

“She has robbed the world of being able to spend time with Gavin,” Rita Gladding said in court.

The Gladdings said Lopez has not shown remorse and believe she helped orchestrate the plan to hide the vehicle and get it repaired before the police found it. “She then continued on with her life, like nothing happened,” Rita Gladding said in court.

Gladding was training for a marathon at the time of the crash. Alvarez Maravilla, sped away from the scene but was later arrested after an intense investigation by law enforcement. In November, Maravilla was sentenced to three years in prison.

Lopez was accused of helping Alvarez Maravilla destroy evidence.

A third person, Moises Antonio Valdez Guerrero, also tried to cover up evidence linking the car to the deadly crash, according to authorities. He received three years probation.

Gladding was a popular teacher and administrator at Fort Washington Elementary School. He was active in his community and was well liked by many. He leaves behind a wife and two small children, ages 8 and 11.

“I literally can’t go anywhere without someone telling me that they knew my husband and how he had a positive impact on their lives,” Susan Gladding said. “He truly was extraordinary.”

Lopez’s attorney Jon Renge urged the judge to allow Lopez to do community service or probation in lieu of jail, saying she was a good person, who made a bad decision.

Her priest, Father Adrian Kim of St. Lucy’s Catholic Church in Fowler, spoke in court on Wednesday saying Lopez was scared and confused that day and has been remorseful.

Kim found her in the back of the church one day and asked her if she wanted to pray for the Gladding family. “She nodded her head in silence,” Kim said. “And every Sunday we pray together for the family.”

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