A woman who was arrested for killing three teens in a car crash while driving drunk is pleading for their families’ forgiveness as she’s given a 51-year prison sentence.
Bani Duarte of San Clemente, California, was sentenced in Orange County on Thursday, February 27. She was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury.
“To sum this up in one line, this is a tragedy of epic proportions,” Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary Paer said at the sentencing. “The victims’ families are suffering. The defendant’s family is suffering. There are no words to adequately summarize this horrific event.”
Duarte, 29, broke down in tears as families of the victims read their impact statements in court.
“You want me to suffer,” she told them. “I just want to say that I’m truly sorry and maybe one day you will forgive me. What I’m saying is coming from my heart.”
In March 2018, after a night of drinking, Duarte rear-ended a car, with four Las Vegas teens inside, on the highway in Huntington Beach. Upon impact, the teens’ car burst into flames, killing Brooke Hawley, 17, Dylan Mack, 18, and Albert “AJ” Rossi, 17, and leaving the fourth passenger critically injured.
The victims all attended Centennial High School in Compton and were in California celebrating spring break.
Duarte has been in custody since April 2018. Now, she will likely spend the rest of her life behind bars.