Teen charged with mur­der in crash that killed mom, daugh­ter

The Modesto Bee - - Local - BY ROSALIO AHUMADA rahu­mada@mod­bee.com

Pros­e­cu­tors have filed mur­der charges against a 17-year-old girl sus­pected of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana in a high-speed crash that killed a woman and her daugh­ter a year ago in Modesto.

Bri­taney Elvira Gomez faces two counts of mur­der in the con­nec­tion with the deaths of Sherri Coo­ley, 54, and Megan Coo­ley, 21, ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint filed Oct. 31 in Stanis­laus Su­pe­rior Court.

Gomez re­mains in cus­tody at Stanis­laus County Ju­ve­nile Hall, where she has been held since she was treated for her in­juries at a lo­cal hos­pi­tal and handed over to au­thor­i­ties.

The court un­til last month had been try­ing to de­ter­mine whether Gomez — who was 16 at the time of the crash — could be pros­e­cuted as an adult. Propo­si­tion 57, a bal­lot mea­sure ap­proved by Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers in Novem­ber 2016, shifted to the court the au­thor­ity to de­cide if a mi­nor could be pros­e­cuted as an adult.

Josh Coo­ley, Sherri’s son and Megan’s brother, said he was in­formed that Gomez’s case had now been trans­ferred to adult court.

“This has all been a huge roller coaster of emo­tions,” he said dur­ing a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day.

At a Nov. 1 ar­raign­ment hear­ing, Gomez pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also in­clude two counts of ve­hic­u­lar man­slaugh­ter in the deaths of the mother and daugh­ter from Modesto.

Gomez is sched­uled to re­turn to court Dec. 11 for a pre­trial hear­ing. The court at some point will sched­ule a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing to de­ter­mine whether there’s enough ev­i­dence for Gomez to stand trial.

Jak Sodhi, Gomez’s at­tor­ney, said his client feels hor­ri­ble about the crash.

“No one is win­ning here,” Sodhi said in a phone in­ter­view Mon­day. “It’s an ab­so­lute tragic sit­u­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly for the vic­tims, their fam­i­lies and all par­ties in­volved.”

The de­fense at­tor­ney said his client does not have any DUI con­vic­tions or any other crim­i­nal con­vic­tions.

When a de­fen­dant is con­victed of a DUI charge, the judge will ad­mon­ish the de­fen­dant with a warn­ing that driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs can lead to some­one’s death. It will be up to the prose­cu­tion to demon­strate in court that Gomez knew her al­leged crim­i­nal be­hav­ior was dan­ger­ous and could end in death.

Gomez also faces a charge of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of a drug caus­ing in­jury. Modesto Po­lice Chief Galen Car­roll last year told The Modesto Bee that the girl is sus­pected of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana.

The DUI charge in­cludes en­hance­ments for al­legedly caus­ing great bod­ily in­jury upon Ju­lian Ramirez and Hayden Ina­cio in the crash, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

Au­thor­i­ties have said Gomez was driv­ing a 2006 Mercedes Benz sedan with two pas­sen­gers — her 14-year-old brother and a 16-year-old boy. The boys also were taken by am­bu­lance to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal for treat­ment. Be­cause they were mi­nors, the names of the three teenagers had not been re­leased by au­thor­i­ties un­til the crim­i­nal com­plaint was filed last week.

The deadly crash was re­ported about 8:20 p.m. Nov. 29 at the in­ter­sec­tion of Tully and Rum­ble roads near Davis High School in north Modesto.

Sherri and Megan Coo­ley lived nearby and had just left their home to run er­rands when the crash oc­curred. Megan Coo­ley was work­ing and at­tend­ing ju­nior col­lege. She lived with her par­ents.

Modesto po­lice of­fi­cials have said that the teenage girl was driv­ing the Mercedes sedan north on Tully and speed­ing. Megan Coo­ley was driv­ing a 2003 Ford Es­cape south on Tully and was turn­ing left to head east on Rum­ble, when the Mercedes struck the Ford’s pas­sen­ger side.

The Ford rolled over and came to rest about 170 feet north of the in­ter­sec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the ini­tial po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Au­thor­i­ties worked for some time to free the mother and daugh­ter, who were trapped in­side their ve­hi­cle.

The mother was pro­nounced dead at the scene; her daugh­ter was rushed to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal where she died from her in­juries.

Cour­tesy of fam­ily

Megan Coo­ley, 21, and Sherri Coo­ley, 54, were killed in a Nov. 29, 2017, crash.

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