Crime

Santa Maria driver who hit, pinned woman under car hears from victim at DUI sentencing

Renee Michelle Castro
Renee Michelle Castro

The words of an injured woman who was pinned under a vehicle driven by an intoxicated woman in April were heard in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday before Renee Michelle Castro was sentenced to state prison.

Two months ago, Castro pleaded no contest to driving while under the influence of methamphetamine and alcohol. She also admitted the special allegation of causing great bodily injury.

Under the deal, Castro was sentenced to two years in state prison, and is expected to serve 85 percent of that time.

Santa Maria police officers and firefighters responded shortly after 4:30 p.m. April 9 to the Santa Maria Town Center East parking lot, and found a woman trapped underneath a 2007 Toyota passenger vehicle, police said.

The victim had just stepped out of the vehicle at the back entrance to the movie theater when Castro drove along the curb, hit another car and the woman, knocking her to the ground and pinning her under the vehicle.

“I was yelling, “Where’s my husband?’ ” Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Dix read from the woman’s victim-impact statement. “ ‘Get this off of me.’ There was a crowd around, so no one heard me.”

She recalled a woman holding her hand in comfort. The vehicle periodically got tighter on her chest, apparently because the defendant kept getting back into the car. The victim recalled hearing a man saying, “Get out of that car and stay out,” before more sirens.

Firefighters freed the victim, who was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center.

There, she received treatment for a fractured eye socket, a head injury that is still numb months later and plastic surgery to repair severe facial cuts.

Bruising turned her breast black at one point. Scars remain on her back.

“I was very lucky that nothing was broken,” the victim said in the written statement.

“I will get better but my husband will not,” the woman wrote.

Seeing his wife trapped under a vehicle affected the woman’s husband, causing his Parkinson’s disease symptoms to progress dramatically, the woman said in the statement.

“I could go on and on about how you impacted our lives,” the woman wrote. “I have met your nice family, and whatever sentence you receive, it will never be enough for what you have done to us and them for the sake of drugs.”

Castro initially was arrested on felony DUI charges and possession of methamphetamine and illegal paraphernalia, according to the Santa Maria Police Department

Noozhawk.com is a Santa Maria-based news website. Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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