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Teen Sentenced to Prison for Vehicular Manslaughter

A 19-year-old Santa Maria man will spend 12 years in state prison following a no contest plea to vehicular manslaughter and other charges related to the death of an 18-year-old former star athlete last June.

Superior Court Judge Rick Brown handed down the sentence to Christian Iban Carbajal Friday in a Santa Maria courtroom after several emotional appeals from both sides of the case.

Carbajal faced a maximum of 14 years in prison after he entered a no-contest plea in January to charges of vehicular manslaughter, DUI causing injury, and reckless driving, according to Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson.

He had originally pleaded not guilty.

Carbajal must serve at least 10 years of his sentence before he is eligible for parole because he pled to a serious and violent felony strike, Nudson said.

Prosecutors alleged that Carbajal was racing at speeds up to 80 mph when he caused a June 18, 2013, five-vehicle accident at South Broadway and McCoy Lane, which injured two people and killed Jade Marie Dodson, who had recently graduated from Santa Maria High School and was a star member of the school’s tennis team.

Carbajal was allegedly driving under the influence when his Chevrolet pickup truck failed to stop for a red light while southbound on Broadway at McCoy Lane, according to authorities.

Dodson, a passenger in a Toyota Camry, succumbed to major injuries and died at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

The driver of the Camry, 19-year-old Robert Caroag, suffered traumatic brain injuries, and another passenger, 7-year-old Isabel Dodson, sustained facial lacerations, authorities said.

Carbajal, whose blood tested positive for marijuana, sustained minor injuries and was booked into the Santa Barbara County Jail, with bail set at $1 million.

The DA's Office did not offer Carbajal a plea, and Nudson sought the maximum prison sentence.

Carbajal, who has been in custody since the incident, read a letter of apology to Dodson’s family, who spoke and played a photo slideshow, along with the parents of Robert Caroag.

“It was very emotional,” said Nudson, who said she was satisfied with the sentence. “Prison was warranted in this case due to all the aggravating factors, including the defendant hot boxing his car, the defendant street racing, and the defendant’s seeming lack of remorse and lack of insight into his behavior.

“This is a very tragic case, and no amount of prison time can fill the void the families feel,” she continued. “However,  I believe that the prison sentence in this case will bring closure to the families of the victims and help them begin to heal.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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