A Northridge man, convicted of murder and drunk driving in a crash that killed the son of a former leader of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was sentenced Monday to the maximum term of 18 years to life in state prison.
Lancaster Superior Court Judge Charles Horan imposed the sentence on Darshan S. Grewal, who has two previous drunk-driving convictions, after hearing an emotional plea from the victim’s mother.
Marcy DeJesus, former director of the Los Angeles chapter of MADD, asked the judge to “put this person away for the longest possible time.”
“I wish I had the courage to kill you, but that doesn’t seem enough,” DeJesus told Grewal as he sat in the courtroom in handcuffs and an orange jail outfit. At times near tears, DeJesus said she still felt a “burning hatred and anger” toward the man who killed her son.
Describing Grewal as an alcoholic with a long history of drunk driving, Horan said he could find no reason to grant him leniency. “We have to stop him. The only way I know how to do it is to keep him locked up for as long as possible,” the judge said.
Grewal, 43, who has been jailed since the April crash, will serve at least another eight years before he is eligible for parole. After the eighth year, state parole officials will decide annually whether he should remain incarcerated. Grewal could remain confined for life, Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Foltz said.
Adam R. DeJesus, 19, of Canoga Park was killed April 7 on California 18 east of Palmdale when Grewal’s Cadillac, traveling in excess of 55 m.p.h., crossed into oncoming traffic and struck the teen-ager’s pickup truck head-on. Shanya Roberson of West Hills, DeJesus’ 19-year-old girlfriend, was seriously injured.
Police said Grewal, who was driving with a suspended license, had a blood-alcohol level after the crash of 0.22%, nearly three times the state’s 0.08% limit. On Dec. 10, a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter and two counts of drunk driving.
Overcome with grief, Marcy DeJesus resigned after the accident from her 10-year job as administrator of the Los Angeles chapter of MADD, a nationwide group that has sought tougher penalties for drunk drivers.
“The relief is going to come now that it’s over and I can grieve,” said DeJesus, who was surrounded by MADD members after the hearing.
Horan imposed on Grewal the maximum 15-years-to-life sentence for the second-degree murder count. He added three years for one of the two drunk-driving counts for a total of at least 18 years. But convicts are typically eligible for parole after serving half of their minimum sentence.
The judge also ordered Grewal to pay $40,000 in damages to Roberson, who suffered a disfiguring facial scar in the accident, and another $5,000 to the state’s victims restitution fund. DeJesus said Roberson was in Texas with her family Monday.
Grewal had five previous alcohol-related arrests dating back to 1972, including drunk-driving convictions in Simi Valley in 1983 and San Jose in 1989, a county probation report said.
Foltz said Grewal might not have been driving in April had the San Jose court not stayed his sentence in that case pending an appeal. Court records showed that in August, 1989, Grewal had completed a monthlong inpatient alcohol treatment program in Northern California.
Grewal maintained that he had not been drinking before the DeJesus crash, the report said.