Parents say term too light

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Antelope Valley Superior Court Judge Randolph Rogers said he could not go along with the original deal after hearing from Natalie’s parents, so he sentenced Boden to eight months, attorneys said. Still, a longer jail sentence was not enough for Manuel and Jessyka Ceja, both 22. “He’s destroyed our lives. He’s coldhearted. He’s never apologized. He’s had many chances but he hasn’t,” Jessyka Ceja said. “He will get a second chance to spend holidays and birthdays with his family. Our baby doesn’t.” Boden’s attorney, Michael Eberhardt, said his client is restricted in talking to the victim’s parents because Eberhardt told him not to discuss the case with anyone until the case is over. He said Boden is distraught about the baby’s death. “He’s so traumatized by this that he’s under a doctor’s care,” Eberhardt said. “He is as remorseful as I’ve known any client to be.” Rogers gave Boden the choice of either serving the eight months in jail or doing six months in jail followed by six months of monitoring with an electronic device. LANCASTER – A Palmdale man accused of driving drunk and crashing into a Sylmar family’s sedan, killing a 7-month-old baby, began serving eight months in jail Thursday, a sentence called unjust by the baby’s parents. Eric Boden, 27, pleaded no contest to felony vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence causing injury in the July 16 death of Natalie Ceja and will be formally sentenced July 6 to ensure he serves the entire eight months. “I feel devastated. That’s not justice,” father Manuel Ceja said after the hearing. The original plea bargain called for Boden to be sentenced to a year in jail, which with jail overcrowding could have meant his release within one to two months. Boden, who is married and works as a supervisor at a Burbank studio, chose to do the eight months. If at the end of six months, he changes his mind and wants to be released, he will be monitored for another six months, attorneys said. Boden, whose blood-alcohol level was later tested at 0.13 percent, was talking on a cell phone when his Ford Ranger pickup truck rear-ended the Cejas’ Honda Accord as the couple pulled over to let a fire engine pass on Pearblossom Highway. Natalie was strapped into a child-safety seat in the back seat when the crash occurred. Her parents had been taking her to see friends in the Antelope Valley and deliver an invitation to her baptism. Boden had originally been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison upon conviction. The case prompted Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, to propose legislation that would impose harsher penalties on drunk drivers who kill someone in their first drunk-driving arrest. Karen Mendenhall, director of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Antelope Valley/Kern County chapter, said Boden’s sentence was too lenient. “We want the stiffest sentence possible to tell the community that drunk driving is not acceptable here in the Antelope Valley. I don’t think a lenient sentence tells the community that,” said Mendenhall, who attended the hearing with the Ceja family. “I would’ve hoped for more for the family.” Eberhardt defended the original case settlement. “I just feel the disposition of this case was appropriate. There was a lot of investigation by both the D.A.’s office and my office. There was not gross negligence as charged originally.” Prosecutors offered the one-year jail sentence and five years’ probation, citing Boden’s lack of a record, his blood-alcohol level and the difficulty of proving Boden acted in a grossly negligent manner. In his statement to the court Thursday, Manuel Ceja said Natalie was the first and only granddaughter on both sides of the family. “Her perfections were perceptible from head to toe. In as little as six months of life she touched the hearts of an incomparable amount of people,” Manuel Ceja said. “This man killed our baby. We continue to wake up in the middle of the night looking for Natalie in her crib only to find that she’s not there,” he added. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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