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Wake Forest woman pleads guilty in fatal hit-and-run wreck

Sarah Aimee Carden was sentenced to 25 to 42 months in prison Friday for a hit-and-run that killed Junior Bajani in June.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Wake Forest woman will spend up to 35 months in prison after pleading guilty Friday to charges stemming from a wreck on Interstate 440 last year that killed a man who was trying to avoid her approaching car.

Sarah Aimee Carden, 24, was sentenced to 25 to 42 months in prison, with seven months' credit for time served, on charges of felony death by motor vehicle and felony serious injury by motor vehicle.

Raleigh police said Carden was driving eastbound on I-440 West, near Hillsborough Street, on the morning of June 10 when Junior Tshimpangila Bajani, 30, tried to avoid a collision with her and crashed his Chevrolet Aveo into a guardrail.

Bajani was a student at Wake Technical Community College and had moved to North Carolina from Congo three years ago. He was on his way home from a wedding when the wreck occurred.

A passenger in Bajani's car was injured.

Carden, authorities said, kept going and traveled several miles before police and state troopers could get her to stop.

Her blood-alcohol concentration was 0.16, twice the level at which drivers are considered impaired under North Carolina law.

"What one side thinks is fair, the other thinks is unfair. What one side thinks is just, the other side thinks is unjust," Superior Court Judge Wayne Abernathy said during sentencing. "What I do here today, I suspect no one will agree me."

As part of her plea deal, Carden received concurrent sentences of 25 to 42 months on the death by vehicle charge and 16 to 29 months on the serious injury by motor vehicle charge.

She also received a suspended prison sentence of 16 to 29 months for charges of felony hit-and-run inflicting serious injury or death and felony fleeing to elude arrest.

For five years after her release from prison, Carden must also spend 24 hours in jail on the anniversary of Bajani's death.

His sister, Joceline Bajani, said afterward that she is disappointed in the sentence and would have liked Carden to receive a more severe punishment.

"His vision here in America was to go to school and be a very good brother. Then, someone just came and stopped it, just like that," she said. "Only God knows how He’s going to help us, because it's a tough, tough situation. I lost my brother, and it's like a dream."

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Leyla Santiago, Reporter
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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