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Driver gets 15 years for two deaths in Pismo crash last October

jmellom@thetribunenews.com

The emotional statement of Stephanie Theophilus, whose parents were killed when a car crashed into them last October in Pismo Beach, took center stage at Wednesday’s sentencing of an Oceano man convicted of causing their deaths.

“My parents were taken from me long before they should have been,” Theophilus said of Bruce and Marjorie Mallin. She said she’d lost her role models when her parents died.

After her comments, Jerardo Iriarte was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for causing the crash that killed the couple Oct. 16, 2010.

Iriarte, 20, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy in the wake of his no-contest plea to one count of second-degree murder. Iriarte had faced up to 30 years to life in prison after being charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Iriarte chose not to make a comment when asked by Duffy if he’d like to do so, staring with a blank expression for much of the hearing. The judge said he’d expressed little remorse for his actions during an interview with probation officials and hoped that he’d taken in Theophilus’ statements in court.

On the day of the accident, Iriarte was upset over breaking up with his girlfriend and was trying to restart the relationship.

According to police, Iriarte drove his car through a fence in an effort to harm himself. The vehicle traveled off Highway 101 and continued onto the sidewalk along Price Street, where it struck Bruce Mallin, 63, and his 59-year-old wife.

Theophilus, 36, of Tumwater, Wash., said that she still is trying to cope with the loss of her parents, which has been “trying.” She said her daughters, ages 6 and 9, have had their memories of their grandparents cut short.

Her parents traveled most of the year in an RV, Theophilus said, journeying across the United States and Canada. They made annual trips to Pismo Beach for the Clam Festival, which they were attending when they were struck and killed.

Theophilus said she can picture her parents holding hands, walking along the road with Marjorie on the inside and Bruce closer to the street to protect her. Before the crash, their walks were part of a daily routine. She said they walked for exercise, as much as five or 10 miles, to help them live longer.

Theophilus said her husband first learned the news of her parents’ death over the phone from a San Luis Obispo County coroner.

“I won’t forget the look on my husband’s face when he had to tell his wife her parents were dead,” Theophilus said.

Theophilus said she was somewhat disappointed that a trial didn’t occur to help her understand better exactly what happened with the crash. But, in another sense, she’s glad to have the case resolved. She said she would have preferred convictions on both counts of second-degree murder.

Iriarte’s sentence means he’ll be eligible for parole after 15 years, based on the discretion of the state parole board and the governor.

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