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By Rachel Barnes
Former Cuesta student, Gianna Brencola, was sentenced April 18 to seven years in state prison for the hit-and-run death of a Cal Poly student on his bicycle last fall.
Brencola was reportedly driving drunk when she struck and killed Kennedy Love and then fled the scene.
â€œWe know that when alcohol and vehicles mix, terrible things happen,â€ said San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen. â€œNormal people become criminals.â€
Brencola faced a maximum of 10 years behind bars for the charges of vehicular manslaughter, felony hit-and-run and felony DUI.
She became the only juvenile in 2017 to be arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after the fatal collision that occurred on Aug. 29.
â€œThere is a level of knowledge in the community about what happens when people drink and drive that puts a huge responsibility on the driver,â€ van Rooyen said.
Brencolaâ€™s family sat behind her and cried as the judge rejected the defenseâ€™ request of sentencing her to probation.
â€œShe was a young woman with a serious alcohol problem, probation is not a just outcome,â€ van Rooyen said.
He instead sentenced her to the seven-year sentence the probation officer recommended and ordered her to pay nearly $12,000 in court fees.
The courtroom was packed with Loveâ€™s family and friends who became very emotional during the proceedings. Loveâ€™s mother, sister, and father all took the opportunity to address the judge.
â€œTo say that my heart is shattered is an understatement,â€ said Dorthanna Love, the victimâ€™s mother, during her victim-witness statement. â€œOur family is broken and will never be the same.â€
Brencola openly wept while Loveâ€™s family gave statements and addressed her directly.
â€œIf you knew you were going to be drinking all day — you need to make an action plan,â€ Loveâ€™s sister Candise Wade told Brencola during her statement.
Last fall, Love, 22, was riding his bike down Foothill Boulevard, near Ferrini Road, at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 when the suspect allegedly hit him, left the scene and then abandoned her vehicle, officials said.
In the vehicle Brencola abandoned, police found fake IDâ€™s believed to be for the purpose of obtaining alcohol illegally.
Police arrested Brencola after locating her in her Los Osos home, authorities said. When a blood test was taken five hours after the alleged collision, it showed her blood-alcohol content was .148, nearly two times the legal driving limit for adults. Brencola was 17 at the time.
A judge ruled in October that Brencola should be tried as an adult due to the seriousness of the case. She was then transferred on Nov. 9 to County Jail where she has remained in custody.
Last fall, Brencola pled not guilty to charges of vehicular manslaughter, felony DUI and felony hit-and-run. On March 6, Brencola amended her plea to guilty to the same charges.
In response to the judgeâ€™s sentencing, Brencolaâ€™s defense lawyer, Paul Phillips said:
â€œWe would have hoped for a grant of probation, but we accept the judges ruling.â€