LOS ANGELES – On Friday, Feb. 19, a California appeals court decided
to overturn a woman’s second-degree murder conviction, which she
received after striking a man and driving two miles with his half naked
body trapped in her windshield.
S. Lynn Wilkins’ attorney successfully argued that her trial was
marred because her full criminal history, which included burglary, prostitution
and drug possession, was admitted as evidence. The 2nd District Court
of Appeal ruled that her rap sheet could have led to a prejudiced jury.
The three-member appellate panel came to the conclusion that Wilkins’
long list of arrests and convictions significantly increased the chances
that the jury would “improperly infer” that regardless if
she was criminally liable for killing the victim, she did commit other
crimes, she would commit more in the future, and she was dangerous to
society and deserves to be punished.
DUI and Second-Degree Murder Convictions Reversed
The appellate court ultimately reversed her
driving under the influence (DUI) and second-degree murder convictions, however, it let her conviction
for leaving the scene of an accident stay.
The stated that the prosecutors could retry Wilkins on the DUI and second-degree
On Nov. 24, 2012, Wilkins was working as a substance abuse counselor. She
was on her way home when she struck P. Moreno, 31, of Torrance.
Wilkins drove her vehicle for more than two miles with Moreno’s body
embedded in the windshield before she was confronted at a stoplight by
bystanders and motorists. She told the concerned citizens that he jumped
in front of her car.
Moreno was transported to a hospital, where he died.
Before driving, Wilkins downed a beer and three shots of vodka in her car,
but her defense argued that she didn’t have enough time for her
blood alcohol level to go beyond the .08% legal limit. According to the
investigators, about an hour and a half after the crash, her BAC was about
twice that amount.
In 2014, a judge sentenced Wilkins to 55 years in prison for her crimes.
During her appeal, her attorney argued that the state had insufficient
evidence to convict Wilkins.
The appellate court said that there was enough evidence to support that
her conduct, such as failing to stop and render aid to Moreno was a “substantial”
factor in his death, and thus, the court ruled that the prosecutor could
If you are facing DUI-related charges in Orange County,
contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free consultation with
our Board Certified DUI defense specialist!