A woman with a history of drunken driving is looking at three decades in prison for her conviction in a crash two years ago on Jackson Highway that killed her husband.
Lisa Dawn Perez’s record shows a 2004 conviction for driving under the influence. Prosecutors said she’d also been arrested twice for DUI and had her driver’s license revoked in the three months before a school bus slammed into her Jeep Cherokee when she nosed into the Jackson Highway intersection at Sunrise Boulevard.
Perez, now 48, registered a 0.20 blood-alcohol level at the time of the 3:50 p.m. crash on Sept. 18, 2012, that killed her husband, Lawrence Perez, 66.
Convicted of second-degree murder Thursday by a Sacramento Superior Court jury, Perez is facing a sentence of 30 years to life in prison. The regular 15-to-life term for the offense is likely to be doubled under the state’s “three-strikes” law when Judge Ben Davidian decides Perez’s punishment Sept. 12. Perez has a prior serious conviction for burglary.
“She was a habitual drunk driver who posed an incredible safety risk to the other passenger she took with her in her car,” Deputy District Attorney Kari Reeve said Friday. “Unfortunately, she was unable to curb her behavior of driving under the influence and the ultimate result was that somebody died.”
One of Perez’s two pending DUIs took place in the Amador County city of Jackson just four days before the fatal wreck on Jackson Highway, Reeve said.
An in-home care worker who lived in West Sacramento, Perez also was arrested in Davis in June 2012 after she drove a 76-year-old client to an eye doctor appointment, according to the prosecutor.
When Perez showed up at the client’s home at 10 a.m., “she was wasted drunk,” Reeve said of the defendant. “She caused a disturbance at the optometry appointment and the doctor ended up throwing her out.”
Perez was arrested shortly afterward at a nearby AM-PM mini-mart, Reeve said, and the client, Faye Cox, testified against her in the Sacramento trial.
“She said Ms. Perez drank often,” Reeve said. “She’d be drinking or drunk three out of five times a week. Ms. Cox told her several times, ‘You need to stop this. You’re going to hurt somebody.’
“The defendant told her, ‘It’s OK. I know what I’m doing.’”
Along with second-degree murder, jurors convicted Perez of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license. They also found true an allegation that she inflicted great bodily injury on the bus driver who crashed into her at the Jackson Highway-Sunrise Boulevard intersection.
Witnesses said that in the moments before the crash, Perez had run a red light traveling westbound on Jackson Highway at Dillard Road while she going 65 to 70 mph. Right after that, she passed another school bus on the left at the same rate of speed and veered into the eastbound lanes, forcing other drivers to swerve out of her way, according to the prosecutor’s trial brief.
Perez slowed to a stop at Sunrise, the brief said. With the traffic light still against her, she nosed into the intersection and into the path of the southbound school bus, according to the brief. Her husband died at the scene.
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.