Remember Martha Rodezno, the Los Angeles woman who became miffed and left a family party in Mission Viejo on foot in December, only to be found dead along a Santa Ana freeway?
A 33-year-old Hawthorne man has copped to refusing to stop after the 51-year-old hitchhiker fell out of his petroleum tanker truck that horrible night.
Specifically, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald offered a deal that allowed Jaqwun Laerin Turner to plead guilty this week to felony hit and run with permanent and serious injury in exchange for a year in jail and five years probation.
The deal didn't exactly sit well with prosecutors.
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Cornwell told City News Service he believes Turner should get prison time for causing the death of mother of three Rodezno.
"He didn't stop to render aid," Cornwell said of Turner. "He left her to die alone in the road. He didn't so much as make a phone call to get assistance to her, and then he didn't take any responsibility at all by ever contacting the police."
Rodenzo walked out angry from the family gathering around midnight that Sunday, Dec. 8, and was last seen on foot in the area of Avery Parkway and the 5 freeway. The body of the mother of three children was discovered by a motorist on the 5's northbound transition ramp to the westbound 22 freeway around 2:45 a.m.
Police detectives had obtained evidence that showed Rodenzo got into Turner's truck near Avery and the 5, and a witness saw the same truck heading north on the 22 as a body was ejected from the passenger side, reporting that the truck kept on going.
Investigators eventually tracked the tanker truck to a company, discovered Turner was the driver and arrested him.
It was not known at the time whether Rodenzo had jumped out of a vehicle or, as Cornwell had theorized during the trial, she was pushed. Errol Cook, Turner's attorney, claims Rodenzo opened the passenger side door and fell out. But Cornwell notes the only witness to what went on inside the cab was Turner.
"There's only two people who were there who knew what happened and only one of them is left," Cornwell said.
Cook told City News Service that, "Mr. Turner is very remorseful for what happened and has expressed his condolences to [Rodenzo's] son."
He added that his client will lose his commercial driver's license for a year under the deal with Judge Fitzgerald and that the DMV could impose more sanctions.
"The judge stated that [Turner] received the sentence because other people were at the assistance of the deceased almost immediately," Cook said, "and Mr. Turner's actions would not have changed the resulting death."