Courts & Crime

Woman's 5th DUI proved fatal

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Four times in her young life, Rebecca Vela had been punished for driving drunk.

But there she was again the night of April 18, 2009: Drunk to the point of blackout, behind the wheel of a car.

Vela had never injured anyone before, but on this night, her actions would have devastating consequences: Speeding at more than 70 mph, she struck and killed a 54-year-old man driving home from his second job.

With a history like hers, how could this be allowed to happen?

Stanley Spaeth Jr.'s family, advocates and others have asked that question throughout the course of Vela's fifth DUI trial, which concluded this week with a 15-years-to-life sentence for her second-degree murder conviction.

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