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Friends of killed cyclist say hit-and-run driver getting off easy

Transportation DisastersDisasters and AccidentsPedestrian and Cyclist DisastersHit and Run (vehicular)CrimeHighway and Road DisastersCrime, Law and Justice

Family and friends of a bicyclist who was killed after he was struck by a vehicle and dragged hundreds of feet by another car in September say the sentence for the driver responsible is too lenient for the crime.

Wendy Stephanie Villegas, 21, pleaded no contest Thursday to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence causing injury, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

When Villegas returns to court in late April, prosecutors say she will be sentenced to more than three and a half years in prison. But according to KTLA, Villegas is only expected to serve about half that, leaving friends and family of the bicyclist, 22-year-old Luis "Andy" Garcia, fuming. 

"My blood boils just thinking that someone might get away with as little as three years ... for something like this," Mario Lopez, another cyclist who was injured in the September collision, told KTLA outside the courthouse. 

Another friend, Marissa Carrasco, said simply that "justice was not served."

Garcia's mother, Carmen Tellez, also told KTLA that she was unhappy with the punishment and "repulsed" by Villegas on Thursday because she did not appear to show remorse.

Prosecutors say Villegas was driving on Sept. 14, 2013, when she hit the group of bicyclists in Boyle Heights. 

Garcia was killed after he was dragged for several hundred feet, according to the district attorney's office. Two other cyclists, including Lopez, were injured.

The case has galvanized many bicyclists over the issue of hit-and-run crashes on Los Angeles streets, with many complaining that not enough is being done to protect them on the roads.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

Twitter: @aribloomekatz

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