Woman gets 11 years for fatal DUI crash

SANTA CRUZ — An Aptos woman who was drunk and behind the wheel when she killed an 86-year-old woman in an Aptos crosswalk in December will serve 11 years in state prison, a Santa Cruz County Superior Judge ruled Thursday.

Julissa Ortiz Guzman, 21, has been in custody in Santa Cruz County Jail since her Dec. 17 arrest in lieu of $500,000 bail.

According to Santa Cruz County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosell, Guzman had been drinking all day and had a blood alcohol level of over twice the legal limit when she got behind the wheel.

When she reached the intersection of Soquel Drive and Rosedale Avenue, Guzman struck and killed 86-year-old Kathryn Stokes, who was crossing the roadway, Rosell said.

Guzman did not stop after the crash.

Instead she dropped off her passengers, and then drove home, Rosell said.

California Highway Patrol officers and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s deputies followed leads and quickly located Guzman.

During the sentencing hearing, Stokes was remembered as a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and aunt.

Guzman was previously convicted of two alcohol-related driving offenses in 2017, and was on probation for one of those offenses.

“Guzman’s choice to drive while impaired exhibited a conscious disregard for human life and the court held her responsible for that choice and tragic its consequences,” Assistant District Attorney Alex Byers said.


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