A 46-year-old Paso Robles woman was convicted Monday of three felony charges relating to a crash last year that killed a 20-year-old man who was planning to become a police officer.
A jury convicted Jennifer Anne Chill of involuntary manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or above causing injury.
Chill faces a maximum of eight years in state prison at her sentencing scheduled for Jan. 12 before Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera.
Family members of Jacob Keller, the man killed, and Nolan Martinez, a passenger who was injured in the wreck, hugged and cried after the verdict was read.
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Driving a Pontiac Sunfire, Chill struck a GMC truck driven by Keller on Oct. 3, 2010, on Serenade Drive in Paso Robles.
Chill, who worked as a clerk at Walmart at the time of the wreck, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 percent, according to the prosecutors. She slammed into the oncoming truck while driving up a hill in the residential neighborhood as she returned home after visiting a friend, according to evidence presented at the trial.
Keller, of Paso Robles, was ejected from the truck and died. Martinez, who was riding in the truck, was injured but survived.
Martinez, 20, said that he suffered memory loss and has lingering pain throughout his body.
“I have no recollection of what happened (in the crash),” Martinez said. “The trial was stressful. I’m relieved by the verdict.”
Keller’s mother, Peggy Keller, said that the verdict will help her family start to heal the pain and suffering from his death.
She and her husband Scott and their 19-year-old daughter, Merina, attended the verdict with several family members and friends.
Keller was two classes away from a community college degree and planned to become a police officer, Peggy Keller said, adding that he came from four generations of law enforcement officials.
“Jacob had big plans for the future,” she added.
Martinez said that he became a close friend of Keller’s when Keller moved to Paso Robles at the age of 17, later graduating from Paso Robles High School.
Anna Hernandez, Martinez’s mother, said she had a good first impression of Keller. “He came right up to me and said ‘Hello,’ ” Hernandez said. “I liked him right away.”
Chill was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read and wiped away tears as two women in the audience who came to support her hugged and cried as well.