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Man faces judge, grieving family in Rio Linda DUI crash that critically injured pregnant woman

‘Have no mercy on him’ — mother of DUI hit-and-run victim speaks out at felony arraignment

Latisha Strianese, the mother of Ciara Villegas, speaks out following the felony arraignment of Ronny Ward III, at Sacramento Superior Court, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, the suspect in the hit-and-run of Villegas and her unborn son who later who died.
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Latisha Strianese, the mother of Ciara Villegas, speaks out following the felony arraignment of Ronny Ward III, at Sacramento Superior Court, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, the suspect in the hit-and-run of Villegas and her unborn son who later who died.

Her grandson is dead. Her daughter is fighting for life at a local hospital.

On Tuesday, Latisha Strianese watched the man prosecutors say is responsible for both from the closest courtroom seat she could find and silently held up two photos – images of the child she will never see again.

“I wanted to show him what he’s done to my family. We’re broken and we’ll never be repaired,” Strianese told reporters outside the courtroom at Sacramento County Main Jail. “There’s a man sitting in front of me who killed my grandson and hurt my daughter very badly.”

Ronny Ward III was formally arraigned Tuesday afternoon on a felony charge of driving under the influence causing great bodily injury and a lesser charge of driving with a suspended license Tuesday afternoon stemming from the drunken Rio Linda crash that critically injured 31-year-old Ciara Villegas feet from her mother’s home.

Strianese sobbed as Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman read the criminal complaint and increased the 23-year-old Ward’s bail tenfold.

Ward’s bail now stands at $1 million. He remains held at Sacramento County Main Jail. He and attorney Christopher Parkhurst return to Bowman’s courtroom June 11.

The crash happened about 8 p.m. April 8 on M Street near Fourth Avenue. California Highway Patrol investigators say Ward was driving a Jeep that piled into a Chevrolet Impala, the impact crashing the sedan into Villegas.

Villegas was six months pregnant, carrying a son the family had already named: Ricky.

“It happened right in front of my house. I still have nightmares of the ‘boom,’ of the death of a grandson we wanted oh so much,” Strianese told reporters outside the courtroom.

From Villegas’ broken body, Ricky was born in an emergency cesarean section. The child died days later.

Villegas has already undergone extensive surgery in a fight to survive. She had to be intubated again late Monday, Strianese said.

“She looks like a fish out of water, gasping for air,” Strianese said, then bitterly considered the man behind bars in the building behind her: “I’d like to see him die. I have no mercy on him, no sorrow for him.”

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