A Las Vegas man was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison Wednesday for crashing into another car while impaired by marijuana, killing a mother and her teenage daughter.
District Judge David Wall said he took into account Frank Chelli’s remorse and lack of criminal history, as well as the emotional suffering of the victims’ family in deciding the punishment.
Chelli was 19 when he and a friend were northbound on Hualapai Way on a rainy evening Oct. 27, 2004.
At the intersection of Sahara Avenue, they collided with a Lexus that was eastbound on Sahara.
Yong Sadka, 47, and her daughter Rachel, 15, were passengers in the Lexus. Firefighters had to cut them out of the vehicle.
The driver of the Lexus, Phillip Kim of California, suffered serious injuries and is suing the Chelli family.
A witness said the crash was caused by Chelli running a red light, according to court documents.
Chelli pleaded guilty in August to one count of driving under the influence of a controlled substance causing death and substantial bodily harm, a nonprobational offense that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
On Wednesday, he stood before a dozen of his friends and family in court and expressed remorse to the Sadka family.
As part of the plea bargain, prosecutor L.J. O’Neale entered into an agreement with Chelli to not seek a sentence of more than four to 10 years.
Chelli’s defense attorney, Thomas Pitaro, asked for a sentence of two to 10 years.
“This young man has been tormented by what happened,” Pitaro said.
Neither sentence was enough for Yong Sadka’s sister, Nam Chomg, who said she copes by pretending her sister and niece are out of town. She said she wished she had the heart to forgive Chelli.
“If he goes to jail for the rest of his life, that’s not enough. I lost the only sister I ever had,” Chomg said.
Abraham Sadka, Rachel Sadka’s father and Yong Sadka’s ex-husband, told the judge he’ll forever deal with his only child’s death because of Chelli’s “simple irresponsibility.”
“We’re not supposed to bury our children,” he said. “Rachel is not buried in a cemetery. She is buried in my heart.”
Contact reporter K.C. Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 380-1039.