Isaac Robert Longo, the 33-year-old Placentia resident who the Weekly surmised was being propped up as the poster child for marijuana-influenced manslaughter in the weeks leading up to the ultimately unsuccessful vote to legalize cannabis in California, was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison.
Longo was blamed for a five-vehicle crash on the 91 freeway in November 2007 that killed a woman and injured four other people.
Victim impact statements were given at today's sentencing hearing in Santa Ana by the daughters of the woman killed in the crash, 82-year-old Cecelia Lopez.
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Katherine Griff, who was in the car with her mother at the time, told the court Lopez's birthday was days away and that Griff was sad they couldn't celebrate it. Lopez's other daughter said that her mother was looking forward to turning 100 years old since everyone in her family lives long lives.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office statement on the sentencing follows:
November 19, 2010
DRIVER UNDER INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE FOR KILLING ONE AND INJURING FOUR OTHERS IN CRASH
SANTA ANA - A driver under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for killing one woman and injuring four others by causing a 5-vehicle crash after speeding on the shoulder of the freeway. Isaac Robert Longo, 33, Placentia, pleaded guilty July 28, 2010, to one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with prior convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) in 1998 and 2000. He admitted to the sentencing enhancements and allegations for causing great bodily injury and causing bodily injury to multiple victims.
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 7, 2007, Longo entered the northbound California State Route 55 at Chapman Avenue at 80 to 90 mph in his Ford truck. He continued driving on the freeway as the California State Route 55 became California State Route 91. The defendant was driving under the influence of marijuana and prescription medications Clonazepam and Gabapentin.
Longo crossed all lanes of traffic into the carpool lane and weaved in and out of the carpool lane before swerving back across traffic to the far right shoulder at a high rate of speed. As freeway traffic slowed to a full stop, the defendant drove onto the right shoulder to pass traffic at 70 to 100 mph.
While speeding on the shoulder of the freeway, the defendant lost control of his truck, fishtailed, and crashed into a Honda sedan that was stopped in the far right lane. The force of the impact pushed the Honda into the vehicles ahead of it, causing a 5-vehicle crash. Several motorists called 911 to report the crash.
Longo's truck came to a stop in the far right lane. Responding officers observed objective signs of intoxication including red and watery eyes, slurred speech, and a lack of balance. Longo was transported to the hospital to be treated for minor lacerations and pain in his back, neck, head and shoulders. Approximately two hours after the crash, Longo tested positive for marijuana and prescription drugs.
As of result of the high-speed crash, Longo killed 82-year-old Cecelia Lopez, who was a passenger in the Honda. Lopez died at the scene due to blunt force trauma. Lopez's 63-year-old daughter, Katherine Griff, was driving the Honda and suffered a brain bleed, broken left leg, bruised and punctured lung, and cracked ribs.
Three other victims in two other cars were injured as a result of the crash caused by Longo. Kathleen Collens, 53, suffered head and face lacerations and her daughter, Kimberly Collens, 20, suffered pain to her back, head and neck. April Levin, 33, also suffered pain to her back, head, and neck.
Longo had prior knowledge that driving under the influence could result in killing oneself or others based on completion of alcohol awareness courses stemming from his prior DUI convictions.
Katherine Griff gave a victim impact statement at Longo's sentencing today, saying she was in the car with her 82-year-old mother when she died in the crash. Her mother's birthday was days away and she was sad they couldn't celebrate it. Cecelia Lopez's other daughter was also present in court and said that her mother was looking forward to turning 100 years old since everyone in her family live long lives.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.