San Diego DUI Law Center

San Diego DUI criminal defense lawyers at report that a man who was on parole for his fifth DUI conviction when he drove drunk on a suspended license, causing a freeway crash that killed a 75-year-old grandmother, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years to life in state prison.

John Joseph Taskey, 47, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder in the Sept. 13, 2007, death of Rosa Degerman.

The victim was a passenger in one of two vehicles carrying family members to watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs.

Degerman’s daughter, Gregoria Vigil, read a letter from her brother about their mother.

“I cannot put into words what losing my loving and beautiful mother means to me,” the letter says.

“Nothing can replace her.”

The victim’s family said they wanted Taskey’s sentence to be as long as possible so he couldn’t hurt other families with his drunken driving.

Every time Taskey drove drunk since 1997, it was with a suspended license, said Deputy District Attorney David Grapilon.

“He clearly doesn’t listen to authority,” the prosecutor told Judge David Danielsen.

“In order to stop this man’s driving pattern, he had to kill someone.”

Witness John Covey testified last December that he was driving west on Interstate 8 when he saw Taskey’s truck rear-end the car carrying the victim, causing it to roll over a number of times.

The driver was able to climb out of the wreckage, but three people were dazed in the back seat and one person was trapped in the front passenger seat, Covey testified.

Degerman, sitting in the back seat, died of her injuries the following morning.

The victim’s 11-year-old granddaughter suffered a fractured left shoulder, and a male passenger was treated for a concussion, Grapilon said.

Degerman leaves behind two other grandchildren, the prosecutor said.

California Highway Patrol Officer Jesus Magdaleno testified earlier that Taskey was driving on a suspended license, appeared very disoriented, smelled of alcohol and had an injured finger.

The officer said he had Taskey blow into a breathalyzer to check his blood-alcohol level and the defendant registered a .112 percent and then a .118 percent on a second test. The legal limit for operating a motor vehicle is .08 percent.

Speed was the main reason for the crash, Magdaleno testified.

In return for Taskey’s guilty plea to murder, charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony DUI and driving with a .08 percent blood-alcohol level or higher were dropped.

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