A South Florida woman was facing 20 years in prison for DUI manslaughter in case that stemmed from the deaths of two pedestrians. In fact, sentencing guidelines called for her to spend at least that long. Instead, as part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed not to challenger her defense attorney’s request to ask the judge to go below those guidelines. Still, prosecutors asked for 10 years, while defense attorney asked for four. Instead, the judge handed down a five-year prison term.
According to the Sun Sentinel, Alyza Russell, then just 23, was reportedly driving her mother’s brand new Porsche in downtown Fort Lauderdale when she lost control of the car and careened through a cluster of bushes and into a parking lot – killing two men who were standing in the parking lot, talking with a group of friends. At the scene, Russell reportedly began screaming, “What have I done?!” Authorities say her blood-alcohol level at the time was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Russell has reportedly since her arrest gone on to graduate from Florida International University with a degree in international relations. Now 25, she made the dean’s list and landed a job as a research associate at a firm in Miami. She also completed several online courses offered by Harvard, Princeton, Yale and MIT and recently applied to graduate school. Although these facts to not automatically make her case go away, they are likely part of what the courts refer to as “mitigating circumstances.” Continue reading