A drunken driver pleaded no contest Monday to killing two people, including Madera Community Hospital nurse Molly Taylor Griffin, and seriously injuring two others, including Griffin’s best friend, Emily Kristen Krieghoff, in February.
Prosecutor Sally Moreno said Hector Castillo-Pichardo entered his pleas in Fresno County Superior Court to two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, drunken driving causing injury, being an unlicensed driver and failing to stop at a red light.
Castillo-Pichardo, 24, faces a maximum sentence of up to 21 years behind bars when he is sentenced on Feb. 9, Moreno said.
Until his sentencing hearing, Castillo-Pichardo will remain in the Fresno County Jail.
According to Moreno, Castillo-Pichardo was charged with driving under the influence and causing a collision on Friant Road at Copper River Drive on Feb. 21 that killed Griffin and Oscar Felix Vega, and seriously injured Krieghoff and Jose Flores.
Griffin was an honors student at Fresno Christian Schools and went on to earn a nursing degree from Fresno State. She then became a registered nurse and worked in the surgical department at Madera Community Hospital.
Krieghoff attended Fresno City College, where she is studying to become a nurse.
Fresno police said Griffin took Krieghoff to check out the Copper River Ranch community in northeast Fresno where she was buying a home. On the way out of the neighborhood, Griffin’s vehicle was hit by a vehicle driven by Castillo-Pichardo.
Griffin, 23, died at the scene. Krieghoff, also 23, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center with several injuries, including a lacerated aorta and a fractured hip.
Castillo-Pichardo, 24, suffered minor injuries. Vega, a passenger in Castillo-Pichardo’s vehicle, died at the hospital.