Woman sentenced to 5 years for DUI crash that killed 8-year-old - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Woman sentenced to 5 years for DUI crash that killed 8-year-old

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SKOKIE, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A north suburban woman was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for fatally striking an 8-year-old boy while driving under the influence of drugs, Pioneer Press is reporting.

Prosecutors claimed Hanin Goma, 23, struck and killed Carter Vo while the boy was riding his bike on the sidewalk near Main Street and St. Louis Avenue in Skokie on May 21, 2012.

Goma, of the 5000 block of Wright Terrace in Skokie, admitted smoking marijuana the day of the crash. Blood tests showed marijuana and amphetamines in her system, authorities said.

Following emotional testimony from the victim's family, as well as Goma and her family, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Lauren Gottainer Eden could have sentenced her to probation up to 14 years in prison, with at least 85 percent time of the sentence to be served.

"These are the most tragic cases we get as judges," Eden said. "I cannot put into words what a tragic case this is. The effect on (the victim's family) is unimaginable."

Goma pleaded guilty last month to one felony count of aggravated DUI resulting in death, and one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs.

Traveling south on St. Louis while trying to turn left on Main Street, Goma hit an eastbound vehicle, losing control of her car, police said. She then struck the boy, dragging him and his bicycle about 150 feet before colliding with a parked car.

Nho Vo, the victim's father, had difficulty Wednesday getting through the statement he read in the courtroom.

He recounted how Carter asked his grandfather to go out for a bike ride after school that spring day and then never came home.

"When he died, all of us who knew him, we all died that day," said Vo, who had to back away a couple of times.

A letter from the grieving father was also read in court by the prosecutor, describing Carter as "full of energy and life," "creative and artistic" with an infectious smile and the desire to be the center of attention.

"He was my hope, my dreams, the proudest accomplishment in my life," Nho Vo wrote.

Goma sobbed loudly during the testimony, her glasses pushed up and her hands covering her eyes.

"I can only imagine what you're going through," she said in deep sobs in an apology to the family. She said she feels "shame, guilt, pain and heartache" every day.

"You have reason to hate me," Goma told the Vos. "I hope one day you can find a way to forgive me."

Asst. State's Attorney Cathy Crowley argued that Goma's criminal history should be considered. She recounted several cases where the defendant was charged with retail theft and possession of marijuana.

In 2008, Crowley said, Goma was charged with criminal damage to property in an incident at a gas station where she allegedly threw merchandise on the floor, damaging some of it, and then fled.

Following her fatal car crash, she was allowed to be at home on electronic monitoring and was prohibited from consuming alcohol. She violated those terms, Crowley said, and has been in jail ever since.

Goma's lawyer, Michael Goggin, said that his client was not charged with reckless homicide in the case and insisted she has real and deep remorse. He said that Goma has never been convicted of a felony before.

Goma suffered from a serious blood disorder as a child and had a bone marrow transplant, he said. Despite having issues with marijuana, he said, she was getting her life in order and had been at work the day of the crash.

Eden said she took into consideration that the defendant has been dealing with her drug issues in jail and has been a leader in a justice program there.

Nho Vo said the five-year sentence was the same amount of prison time that Goma had been offered in a plea agreement earlier this year. It was pulled off the table when Goma failed to make a decision.

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