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January 28, 2023

Greenfield man gets 15 years-to-life in prison for deadly crash

GREENFIELD — A Monterey County judge has sentenced Greenfield resident Baltazar Donato to 15 years-to-life in state prison for second-degree murder.

Donato, 28, received an additional consecutive five-year sentence for driving under the influence causing injury, with two prior DUIs, and causing bodily injury to more than one victim. 

Donato was found guilty by a jury on Oct. 18 of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .08% causing injury, and driving on a suspended license. 

In addition, the jury “found true enhancements for having suffered two prior DUI convictions, causing bodily injury to more than one person, and great bodily injury,” according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office in a news release.

On the evening of Feb. 2, 2021, Sabrina Lecce was driving on southbound Highway 101 in the San Ardo area when Donato, driving the wrong way on 101, collided head-on with her vehicle. Lecce, 23, was pronounced dead at the scene and her passenger suffered a shoulder injury.

A subsequent blood test showed Donato’s blood alcohol was .19%, over two times the legal limit.

“Evidence from the ‘black’ box in Donato’s car showed he was driving at speeds of 87 miles per hour within seconds of the collision and failed to brake until within 0.2 seconds of the collision,” the release said.

Donato has prior convictions for DUI in Monterey County from 2012 and from Idaho in 2018.

At the Nov. 30 sentencing, many of Lecce’s family members filled the courtroom, paying tribute to her warm hugs and love for animals and children.

“Sabrina’s bright light was extinguished too soon,” the release said.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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