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Woman Pleads Guilty to Fatal Hit-and-Run

Posted June 4, 2007

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— A 26-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to a hit-and-run accident last fall that killed a man who had earlier survived a road rage shooting.

A tearful Yokairi Diaz, of 5501-101 Reunion Pointe in Raleigh, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run in connection with the Sept. 7 death of Neil Anderson.

Superior Court Judge J.B. Allen sentenced Diaz to six to eight months in jail on the hit-and-run charge and placed her on probation for three years on the DWI charge.

Defense attorney John McWilliam said Diaz often breaks down when thinking of the accident and was willing to accept responsibility for Anderson's death and Allen's judgment.

"She understood that she took a life. She feels really, really remorseful about that. The fact is that she panicked," McWilliam said.

Diaz made a tearful apology to the packed courtroom, but Anderson's family and friends said it came much too late.

"If she was truly sorry, she would have picked up the phone, or she would have said to (McWilliam), 'I really need to get in touch with this family,' and it would have helped," said Anderson's mother, Jenny Hanna.

Anderson was was celebrating his 23rd birthday with friends and left a bar on Capital Boulevard near Durant Road. As he crossed Capital, he was hit by a car and killed, and the driver never stopped, police said.

Friends and relatives sobbed in court as they asked Allen to give Diaz a harsh sentence.

"It's tore us apart. We are a close family. Each one of our children has gone through hell just trying to deal with it individually, and we're trying to help them," said Anderson's father, Alex Anderson.

A grand jury declined to indict Diaz on manslaughter or other more serious charges in connection with the accident because Anderson was legally drunk at the time of his death and was negligent in crossing the road.

Anderson's blood-alcohol content was 0.23 percent at the time of his death, almost three times the legal limit for intoxication in North Carolina.

Diaz was arrested at a nearby apartment complex after police located a car matching the description of the one that hit Anderson. She registered a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent six hours after the accident, and Assistant Wake County District Attorney Jeff Cruden said experts estimated her blood-alcohol at 0.14 percent at the time of the hit-and-run.

Alex Anderson said the jail sentence given to Diaz is a small price to pay for his son's life, and he said state laws on contributory negligence need to be changed.

"It has to change. It has to change, and drunk driving needs to be taken very seriously for everybody," he said.

Neil Anderson already had cheated death once in his life.

He was riding in an SUV on eastbound Interstate 40 in January 2005 when two men he and his friends had argued with earlier pulled up in the next lane and fired a shotgun into the vehicle. Anderson was struck in the face and spent months recovering from his wounds.

Two Onslow County men were convicted in the case.

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  • djofraleigh Jun 5, 2007

    Alcohol, which the state government and its people, profit from, wasn't the cause, but without it, probably in both people, this tragedy may not have happened.

    One life lost, one life scarred, and two families in pain,
    and the one common element is alcohol. May Karma, come back on anyone who profits from its production, sale and use where bad things happen.

  • lizard Jun 5, 2007

    "It has to change. It has to change, and drunk driving needs to be taken very seriously for everybody," he said.

    Being drunk ,,,period,,,should be taken seriously.

  • Professor Studley Jun 5, 2007

    I agree with suZ, the crime was hit and run... the pedestrian, assuming he was jay walking as many ppl do on Capital Blvd, played a part in his own death... By the logic that BAC should be 0.00 is wholly unreasonable seeing as how diabetics often have some alcohol (produced by one's own body), in their breath. I feel for the family's loss, however I think they are being unreasonable. The punishment is harsh enough, not to meantion the mental anguish the driver has to suffer from her own mistake and the consequenses of the outcome. The way I see it, both parties were at fault... Remeber there are public intoxication laws, and at 0.23 BAC the guy should not have been out in public unattended at all, his failure in judgement cost him his life. People need to take responsiblity for their actions and his family needs to understand that.

  • Supie Jun 5, 2007

    She Left The Scene of the crime !! I don't care if she was drunk or if the victim was drunk, she hit a human being and "fled the scene" without seeing if that human being was alive or hurt or dead. Police found her car at her apartment hours later, its not like she turned herself in. Six months is Not Justice.

  • GODRULES Jun 5, 2007

    WHEN IT IS YOUR TIME TO DIE, NOTHING CAN PREVENT IT DEATH - HIS JOURNEY ON EARTH WAS OVER. SHE WILL BE PUNISHED FOR WHAT SHE DID BY LAW AND GOD. EACH INDIVIDUAL BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL WAS EXTREMELY HIGH AND SENTENCE WAS PASSED. THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY CASES IN THE 20 YEARS IN THIS STATE FOR DEATH BY DRUNKEN DRIVER AND THE LAWS HAVE NOT BEEN AMENDED. SO, IF YOU ARE DISMAYED, DISGUSTED, MORTIFIED, ETC. - LOBBY TO CHANGE THE LAWS IF YOU DON'T DRIVE WHILE INTOXICATED OR ARE YOU UPSET BECAUSE THIS MAN WAS YOUR FRIEND >>>>>>>>>..............GODRULES

  • pattip574 Jun 5, 2007

    luvtoshag- you can't have a 0.00 BA... even a swoosh of mouthwash will register you as having consumed alcohol. Besides, a glass of wine with dinner is not enough to leave ANYONE impaired. You should not wish to punish an entire nation because of the sins of a few, do you? Where do we place blame here? Do we blame the laws because you can legally have one drink? Do we blame the alcoholic parents of these irresponsible individuals? Or do we place blame where it belongs, with the person who chose to drink more than that ONE drink, making him/her impaired enough to take a life? Or do we blame the bartender for continuing to serve someone who has had more that one? I, for one, like the idea of blaming the person who lacks judgement and responsibility when they made a conscious decision to have drinks #2+!

  • luvtoshag Jun 5, 2007

    I believe that the legal limit for blood alcohol should be 0.00! There is no excuse to allow someone to have ANY alcohol in their system and be allowed to drive. Why does the legislature think it is ok for a person to drive after they have consumed alcohol? I can't beleive that more people do not push for the 0.00 level. If someone they (the lawmakers and enforcers)know, love or are related to is killed by someone who has been drinking maybe, just maybe they would want the law changed too. I hope that someday the rest of America will feel like I do and push for the zero level. If you consume alcohol in any amount you are impaired, maybe not to the extent as someone who has a blood alcohol of 0.80 but you are still impaired and to think that is ok to drive is absured.

  • ecualum03 Jun 5, 2007

    There is this little law in NC that means if you are even 1% at fault then the other person can get off with a lighter sentence.People are saying that the judge should be taken off the bench but he gave her the maximum sentence he was allowed to give her for the crime she was being tried for.Trust me, the family tried for something tougher.This law is a law from colonial times and only exists in about 4 states. Maybe it's time for a change!It also means that if you are hit by someone running a stop sign, but you are going say 4 miles over the speed limit, then the insurance agencies can deny you any insurance because if you hadn't been going over the speed limit, they might not have hit you.No, her punishment isn't fair and she got off lightly but she has to live with the fact for everyday for the rest of her life that she killed a man.I wouldn't want to live in that prison.

  • nowon_yuno Jun 5, 2007

    There was a character on the HBO prison drama "OZ" who got 15 years for killing someone in a drunk driving accident. 6-8 months is a travesty! If you want someone to go away for a long time you have to bust them for drugs, everything else is a slap on the wrist. She'll be back in the news eventually.

  • anonemoose Jun 5, 2007

    Pedestrians do not have the right of way outside of a marked crosswalk. Check out NCGS 20-174. Facts are nicer then wags.

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