Opening statements were heard by a jury today in the trial of a Rancho Cucamonga woman accused of killing two people while recklessly driving drunk.
In the early morning of Jan. 21, 2006, Yvonne Sinclair was driving her brand-new H2 Hummer at speeds of up to 81 mph when she slammed into a Nissan Altima at the intersection of Central Avenue and San Bernardino Street in Montclair.
The two occupants of the Altima, 22-year-old Kara Rosa Adella Maes of Chino and 23-year-old Sergio Lopez of Ontario, were killed instantly.
Sinclair, 29, had been celebrating her birthday with four friends as a Chino nightclub. A blood test drawn after the crash showed her blood-alcohol content was 0.11, exceeding the legal limit of 0.08, prosecutors said.
Deputy District Attorney Kent Williams vividly recreated the sequence of events leading up to the crash for the West Valley Superior Court jury.
He punctuated his opening statement by projecting onto the courtroom wall a photo of the two dead victims pinned inside the Altima.
Sinclair is facing four felony charges: two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and two counts of felony DUI causing great bodily injury.
Her case includes several ironic twists.
Robin Lee Felts, Sinclair’s live-in boyfriend and father of her 8-year-old daughter, was killed by an intoxicated driver in December 2003.
At the sentencing hearing for Thomas Allen Castle, the intoxicated driver, Sinclair made a victim’s statement to the court.
“I think you’re a danger to society,” Sinclair told Castle at the hearing, Williams told the jury.
Sinclair sued Felts and his employer over the crash, and Sinclair’s three children received a $600,000 settlement.
Sinclair used a portion of the settlement money to purchase the Hummer.
Williams said Sinclair and her friends arrived at Godfather’s Night Club in Chino between 9 and 10 p.m. on Jan. 20, and left at about 1 a.m. Jan. 21.
The other women with Sinclair said she was visibly intoxicated when she left the club, Williams said.
When Sinclair began driving north on Central Avenue, she was driving erratically at speeds of up to 80 mph, Williams said.
One of the women in the car told her to slow down. Another began praying, Williams said.
At the intersection of Central and San Bernardino, Sinclair was traveling about 80 mph through a green light when she T-boned the Altima as it tried to turn left in front of her.
The Hummer came to rest after striking a building 100 yards north of the crash site, Williams said.
An electronic device that controls airbag deployment — Williams said it was similar in function to an airplane’s black-box recorder — indicated that the Hummer’s throttle was 100-percent open in the moments before the crash.
The device also indicated that Sinclair never applied her break pedal, Williams said.
The only witness called to testify today, Chino police officer Brian Blyther, said that after Sinclair was arrested, she cried and appeared distraught.
Sinclair said her husband had been killed by an intoxicated driver, and she couldn’t live with herself if she was responsible for two deaths, Blyther said.
In her opening statement, Valerie Young, Sinclair’s defense attorney, called the case “very tragic.”
She said the driver of the Altima, Kara Rosa Adella Maes, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.03, and was apparently not wearing her corrective lenses.
There were no glasses found at the crash scene, and a medical examiner didn’t find contact lenses on Maes’s body, Young said.
“(Sinclair) had a green light. Suddenly, from nowhere,” Maes made a left turn in front of her, Young said.
Among the audience in the courtroom Thursday were Felts’ father and stepmother. They said they were there in support of the victims of Sinclair’s crash.
“We don’t condone what she did at all,” Sharon Felts said.
Sinclair’s trial is scheduled to resume Monday at West Valley Superior Court.