Woman Sentenced to 22 Years to Life in Prison for DUI Crash That Killed 6-Year-Old Girl in Santa Ana

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A 37-year-old DUI driver on Friday was sentenced to 22 years to life in state prison for murdering a 6-year-old girl and injuring the girl’s 7-year sister and their mother by striking the three victims in a Santa Ana crosswalk in 2012.

Jessicah Cowan reads a statement at her sentencing hearing in Santa Ana on July 15, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)
Jessicah Cowan reads a statement at her sentencing hearing in Santa Ana on July 15, 2016. (Credit: KTLA)

On April 15, a jury found Jessicah Louise Cowan guilty of: one felony count each of murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, hit and run with permanent injury or death, hit and run with injury; two felony counts of driving under the influence causing bodily injury; two felony counts of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more causing bodily injury; and an infraction of possession of marijuana while driving, according to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Allegations were found true and sentencing enhancements were imposed for causing bodily injury to the surviving victims — identified in the news release as Eloisa M. and Grisea M. — having a BAC of .20 percent or more, fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter, and causing great bodily injury.

A statement by the father of Gresia and her deceased sister, Osmara Meza, was read aloud Friday by a prosecuting attorney at Cowan’s sentencing hearing.

“It is very difficult to move forward in our lives because we are not the family we used to be. We no longer enjoy anything and we don’t go out anymore,” the statement said. “There is nothing to be done to bring Osmara back.”

Speaking through tears, Cowan read from prepared remarks addressed to Osmara’s mother and father.

“For the past four years I’ve been trying to work through accepting that it was my brokenness and my thoughtless actions that caused an accident that stole your little angel from you,” she said. “Being a mother myself, I can’t even imagine the agony of losing your baby. That’s a pain that no parent should have to endure.”

A booking photo of Jessicah Louise Cowan of Lake Hughes was released by the Orange County District Attorney's Office on June 26, 2012.
A booking photo of Jessicah Louise Cowan of Lake Hughes was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office on June 26, 2012.

The fatal collision happened at about 11 a.m. on June 23, 2012, after Cowan drove through a red light, lost control of her vehicle and slammed into the center median on 17th Street in Santa Ana, prosecutors said.

Cowan continued on after the initial crash and ran another red light at Spurgeon Street, where the two young sisters and their mother were holding hands and walking through a crosswalk on a green light with a “walk” sign, according to the news release.

The driver hit the three victims, “throwing them from the intersection into the street,” the statement said. “The defendant then attempted to flee the scene in her car. A witness used their own car to block the road to prevent Cowan from fleeing.”

The 6-year-girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Her sister and mother were transported to a hospital, where they were both treated for traumatic brain injuries.

Cowan, a Lake Hughes resident, was arrested at the scene by Santa Ana police officers. Marijuana was recovered from her vehicle, authorities said.

“Since then my life changed so much and I miss my daughter Osmara so much, and I also miss the family that I still have because they are no longer the same,” the girls’ father statement said. “I wish that day that I would have never gone to work, so I could have taken my daughters and my wife to breakfast in my car.”

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