Driver in deadly DUI crash tearfully apologizes, begins serving 18-month sentence

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The single working mother of a six-year-old boy began serving an 18-month jail sentence Tuesday for killing a man while driving drunk last year.

Kristin Mancao says she had always held her head high for working two jobs and supporting her young son without anyone's help. She even dreamed of becoming a police officer.

But the 28-year-old says, in a blink of an eye, she threw it all away.

"I'm sorry for the tears, the heartache, anger and pain I have caused you all," she said through tears. "I took a man's life. I took Dean Gomes' life. I wish it wasn't true."

Dean Gomes, 52, of Ewa Beach died after Mancao ran a red light and crashed her speeding SUV into his Corvette. Her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, when it was tested nearly two hours later.

"I'm just asking for justice to be served. I will never again have my dad," Misty Toivonen, victim's daughter, said. "The defendant chose to drink and drive. She chose to speed. She chose to run red lights, which is why we're all here today."

The Gomes family sought the maximum punishment for manslaughter -- 20 years in prison. But the defense asked for mercy, saying Mancao has had no alcohol since the crash, is extremely remorseful, and has no prior criminal record.

"I understand that she has a young child, but there should be no freebies," Debbie Young, victim's sister, said. "Just because you have no record should not be a freebie to somebody's life."

"A life for a life is something that's really hard to forgive and forget," Joyce Somera, victim's sister, said. "I really wish you would think really hard on the sentence."

Mancao pleaded no contest to the full charge of manslaughter without the benefit of a plea deal.

"Words can not describe how horrible I feel," Mancao said. "I know that Mr. Gomes was a father, grandfather, brother and friend, and I think about that night every day."

Circuit Judge Karen Ahn told the victim's family there's nothing anyone can do to bring Gomes back. She handed down what she described as a "fair" punishment -- 18 months in jail and 10 years probation.

The victim's family members say they're still very angry and are not ready to accept Mancao's apology. They also expressed disappointment over the judge's decision.

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