Addiction counselor’s DUI murder case begins in LA
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A drug and alcohol counselor charged with hitting and killing a man while driving drunk is set to face a jury Monday when lawyers present opening statements in her murder trial.
Sherri Lynn Wilkins, who had turned her life around after a long history of convictions, is accused of striking Phillip Moreno with her car on a suburban Torrance street and driving 2 miles with him on the windshield of the car as he was dying.
Authorities allege that Wilkins, 52, was driving drunk and hit Moreno so hard that he was knocked out of his shoes and lodged in her windshield. They said she panicked and continued driving before other motorists swarmed her car at a traffic light and grabbed her keys.
She has pleaded not guilty to murder, driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run. An email message left for her attorney, deputy public defender Nanzella Whitfield, was not immediately returned Monday.
Wilkins has a record of convictions for burglary and possessing narcotics dating to 1989. She had written about turning her life around after her parole in 2008. She had been taking university courses to become a certified addiction counselor and was hired to work with other addicts in a group setting.
Moreno, an avid sports fan, spent his last evening at a bar a half-block from the accident scene. A bartender said he had three beers and left to walk home around 11 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2012.
The amount of alcohol in his system as well as Wilkins’ field alcohol test reading are expected to be issues in her trial, which is expected to take three weeks.
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