SANTA ANA — A twice-convicted drunken driver pleaded guilty Friday to an alcohol-fueled collision that killed a 44-year-old woman and injured her husband and two teenage children.
Kamal Akwette Attoh, 42, of Irvine, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is expected to be sentenced April 8 to 15 years to life in prison.
Attoh faced a murder charge instead of vehicular manslaughter because he was previously convicted of driving drunk in November 2000 in Orange County and in March 2002 in Ventura County, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky.
Attoh killed Jeongmi Choi as she was walking home from a nearby park with her family about 8 p.m. May 16, 2018.
Choi’s 49-year-old husband suffered a ruptured spleen and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, Bokosky said. The couple’s 15-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son were also hospitalized, she said when charges were filed.
After the defendant’s 2012 BMW X5 slammed into the family on a sidewalk along Ridgeline Drive near Turtle Rock Drive, the vehicle careened down an embankment and slammed into a tree, Bokosky said.
“Kamal wanted to accept responsibility for his actions and didn’t want to put the family through a trial and felt the resolution was just,” his attorney, Jeff Kent, said.
Attoh told police he was driving home from his girlfriend’s house, according to testimony from his preliminary hearing. He initially said he had four beers and was on Xanax, but later he told police had been drinking vodka and martinis, police testified.
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