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DA: Driver charged in death of pregnant woman in Anaheim was warned 3 times of DUI dangers

A Garden Grove woman accused of killing a mother-to-be in an Anaheim crash was warned three separate times, during multiple DUI convictions, of the dangers of driving while intoxicated, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Courtney Fritz Pandolfi, 40, was charged Thursday with felony counts of murder and driving under the influence of drugs causing injury, as well as a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license.

Yesenia Lisette Aguilar, 23, was killed on Tuesday when the driver of a Jeep – later identified by police as Pandolfi – allegedly jumped a curb on Katella Avenue near Bayless Street and struck Aguilar while she was out for a walk with her husband.

Prosecutors allege that the Jeep crashed through a metal newspaper stand before hitting Aguilar, who was 8-months pregnant. Pandolfi continued to drive down the sidewalk, prosecutors allege, until her vehicle “became disabled.”

Aguilar’s husband, who was not injured, reportedly performed CPR on her before she was taken to a hospital, where she died.

Doctors were able to perform an emergency C-section to save her baby’s life. The infant remained in critical condition Thursday, according to the DA’s office.

Pandolfi was previously convicted of DUI in 2008, 2015 and 2016. According to prosecutors, after all three convictions she was given a warning – known as the Watson advisement – that if she continued to drive under the influence, and if she struck and killed someone, she could be charged with murder.

Proving that someone acknowledged having received the Watson advisement allows prosecutors to charge them with second-degree murder, rather than a lesser charge of vehicular manslaughter, in connection to a fatal crash.

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said Aguilar’s death was “not an accident,” but rather “a choice – and it was a deadly one.”

“This is beyond shocking and it is absolutely reprehensible,” Spitzer said in a written statement. “There is no reason why a 23-year-old mother is dead and her daughter will grow up without ever seeing her mother’s smile or hearing her voice. This was 100 percent preventable. This woman knew the consequences of driving under the influence and she did it anyway.”

Pandolfi appeared in court on Thursday afternoon, but did not enter a plea, records show. Her arraignment was continued to Sept. 4.

If convicted, Pandolfi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. She is being held in county jail in lieu of $1 million bail, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Department records

Source: Orange County Register

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