At the end of a somber and tearful hearing Thursday, Lanie Tyrone Richardson was sentenced to 14 years in state prison for his role in the "car surfing" death of a 26-year-old Santa Barbara woman in 2012.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Jean M. Dandona imposed the sentence — the maximum possible — on Richardson, who had pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and also admitted to personally inflicting great bodily injury to a second victim.
Richardson has already served 668 days of his term, and any restitution he owes the victims will be determined at a future date.
Richardson was behind the wheel of an SUV in the early morning hours of June 6, 2012, while Allison J. Meadows and her friend, Lindsay Keebler, 25, were riding on the hood, engaging in a thrill-seeking activity known as car surfing.
With the vehicle traveling in excess of 70 mph, according to estimates by the California Highway Patrol, the two women were ejected onto East Valley Road in Montecito.
Meadows died of major head injuries, and Keebler was seriously injured in the incident.
Sentencing proved to be an emotional time for Meadows' family, and a video tribute of Meadows displayed photos of her throughout her life.
Meadows' mother and step-father, Lynn and Roger Rivera, were among those in the courtroom Thursday when Richardson was sentenced, and gave an emotional victim-impact statement that was read by Deputy District Attorney Von Nguyen.
It had been a "grueling 18 months" since Meadows' death, the Riveras said. Lynn said that Meadows was her only biological daughter, and described a young woman dedicated to family and who would never miss a holiday to spend with them.
"Our family gatherings will never be complete," Rivera said.
Meadows loved the cancer patients she worked with, and would often tell her mother about them during their daily phone conversations.
Living in Paso Robles eventually became too painful for the family, and driving past Meadows' high school, first apartment and other places was followed by a "sadness that would often overcome me."
The family acknowledged that Meadows wasn't perfect and ultimately made the decision to leave with Keebler that night.
"It is our hope and prayer the other parties will change the course of their lives and make positive difference in the lives of others," they said.
Richardson was quiet throughout the proceedings, but did offer a brief apology to Meadows' family.
"I am truly sorry for what has happened," he said.
Dandona also offered her condolences, and said that she was deeply sorry for the Riveras' loss.
"The community shares your grief," she said.
After the sentencing, Janet Carroll, who was Meadows' roommate at the time of her death, said Meadows was like "another one of my kids."
"We both needed each other," she said. "She was a beautiful soul."
Carroll expressed frustration at the high-profile DUI fatality cases currently in the court system, including that of Mallory Dies, who died after being struck by an alleged drunken driver while she was crossing the street.
Dies and Meadows shared some of the same friends, Caroll said, and she urged people not to drive after drinking.
"People need to make better choices."
Carroll said that it was good to hear Richardson apologize to the family, and added that "we're hoping he can become a better person."
After the lengthy court proceedings, Carroll said that she hoped this would be a time of renewal for everyone who knew Allison and was crushed by her loss.
"It's time for everyone to heal," she said.