By Anna Zheng
SACRAMENTO, CA – Ybarra Armanda, Jr., was sentenced here in Sacramento County Superior Court last Friday to 15 years to life in prison for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated—the comments from relatives and friends of the man he killed were haunting.
In the defendant’s social history study, it was revealed to the court that the defendant has struggled with alcohol addiction ever since he was seven years old. Inter-generational alcohol and substance abuse disorder runs in his family, where his father and all his siblings struggle with alcohol addiction.
In 2017, when the police stopped the defendant for suspected drunk driving, the defendant took off in his vehicle leading them on a chase. The defendant did not yield and refused to stop, where it ultimately endangered the public that was present at the time.
Given the defendant’s record of three prior convictions for driving under the influence in which the court previously found the charges to be true, the maximum sentence of 15 years to life was mandated per PC section 191.5(b).
A close friend of the deceased victim appeared in court requesting for the defendant to be sentenced to the maximum. The victim’s friend talked about how the death of his friend has negatively impacted him emotionally .
“[The victim’s] death means that I have lost a lifelong friend, but he was more than just a friend, he was the brother I never had. He was the guy I could confide in, tell my dreams and my fears. Most importantly, he was the guy who was filling the void in my heart that I didn’t know existed until he was gone. Now all I have is the void. A never-ending emptiness that I will take to my grave,” he said.
He then talked about how he often wonders, “What if none of this happened? What if [the victim] could have lived peacefully and retired and lived out his years with his wife, his daughter and two granddaughters? [The victim] will miss all of those things due to the gross negligence displayed by the defendant.
“It is because of all those missed opportunities, activities, and occurrences, and to protect all innocent drivers on the roads of California that I humbly request that the defendant be punished to the fullest extent of the law and sentenced to the maximum time in prison on all counts,” he added.
The victim’s daughter provided a letter in court, where she mentioned how, just like her father’s friend, she also wonders about the “what ifs.”
“I remember on March 17, 2017, that was the last time I spoke with my dad. My dad and I were conversing in the morning before heading off to work. We told each other we would see and speak to each other later. I wish I wasn’t rushing to work because I felt that one to five minutes of staying and talking would have saved his life,” her letter read.
Her letter then talked about how, from that day onward, she never got to converse with her dad again. At his ICU room, she would hold back tears while promising him they “would do all the fun stuff [she tells him about] once he recovers.”
She then wrote about how after her dad’s death, she and her mother struggled financially.
“It took us more than a year for my mom and me to figure out everything due to my father being the breadwinner and taking care of everything. He took care of us. He took care of all of us all the time. It was really hard for me and my mom to adjust.
“I would never want another family to experience what we had to endure. It isn’t right nor fair. We lost a great friend, a husband, a grandfather. And I lost the greatest father a daughter would ever ask for,” her letter concluded.
Deputy District Attorney Paris Coleman then pointed out how, although the defendant issued an apology, he did not learn from his accident.
“His conduct after the offense is what troubles me the most. After being under the influence in this horrific accident, whether he knew at the time or not that the [victim] had died, he knew he had placed this man in the hospital. He knew he suffered significant injuries,” Coleman explained.
“It would be incumbent upon someone after that to say ‘this is not something that I’m never going to let happen ever again, not to me, not to anyone else’, and yet Mr. Armanda did not learn from that horrific lesson. He did not learn from that conduct,” Coleman concluded.
Judge David De Alba ultimately sentenced the defendant to an indeterminate life sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
In closing remarks, Judge De Alba commented, “I’m surprised this man wasn’t charged with murder [by the district attorney].” He then warned the defendant that if the same accident were to ensue after he was released from prison, he would be charged with murder.