Nikolette Kristina Gallo had pleaded guilty in June to the March 11th hit and run incident at OB’s entrance that killed Sho Funai. On Friday, July 27th, she was sentenced by Judge Dwayne Moring to one year in prison, plus the standard five years of probation.
The 19-year-old Gallo had admitted that she had drank alcohol and smoked marijuana prior to the crash at the end of I-8. It left Funai, an engineering student at UCSD, without a life. The victim’s family was still not satisfied. “We don’t feel that the sentence matches the seriousness of the crime,” said Daisuke Funai, one of the victim’s older brothers.
Judge Moring commented that the victim was “where he shouldn’t have been,” as he had been reportedly walking in the middle of Interstate 8 when he was struck by Gallo, who was in her lane and driving under the posted 65 mph speed limit. Gallo might not have been charged with any crime if she had remained at the scene of the incident. The judge told her that she’s going to jail “because you fled the scene.”
The prosecution argued for state prison. As it is, Gallo – who had no prior record – will serve her one year in local County custody.
Paul Pfingst – the former County DA – represented Gallo. She had reportedly stated that she had just dropped off a friend in the beach and was then on her way home; she thought she had hit a discarded sofa or a coyote.
He said that his client “panicked” and drove home after hitting the man. She called her dad two times after the 4:30 a.m. incident but did not call 911. She was arrested after another attorney called police about 5 hours after the crash. “My client had an obligation to stop. She did not fulfill that obligation,” ” Pfingst said. He also added that just moments before the incident, an older couple driving to the airport did call 911 to report a man believed to be Funai in dark clothing walking in the roadway. They could have hit him they said if he had been in their lane.
In the morning, Gallo told investigators that when she saw news coverage of the hit and run pedestrian fatality, she got on the phone with her father; they called a lawyer who then contacted the CHP. When officers arrived at her home, she admitted to drinking, and saw that her 2007 Toyota Camry had substantial front-end damage. T
Funai’s family and friends have described him as a guy who walked home to avoid DUI’s. Funai was a new resident of OB and perhaps had lost where he was going in the dark that night. He did have a blood-alcohol level of .17 percent – 9 points over the legal limit in driving a vehicle. When Gallo was tested there was no evidence of alcohol or pot use.