Man convicted of murder in DUI crash that killed Irvine girl, 14

An Irvine man was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in connection with a drunk driving crash that killed a 14-year-old cheerleader and injured four others in 2011.

Austin Jeffrey Farley, 28, was also found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, the Daily Pilot reported.


The crash occurred shortly after 1 a.m. on May 29 when Farley, who was driving south on Culver Drive toward Irvine Boulevard, made a left-hand turn against a red light and his Dodge truck hit a Mercedes-Benz sedan with five people inside.

One of passengers, 14-year-old Ashton Sweet, later died as the result of irreversible brain damage. The family of the Northwood High School cheerleader chose to take her off life support and donated some of her organs.

Orange County prosecutors said Farley, who was driving with his girlfriend, showed obvious signs of intoxication at the scene of the crash and was unable to keep his balance.

Nearly two hours after the incident, Farley had a blood-alcohol content of 0.20% — well over the legal limit of .08%, prosecutors said.

In 2009, Farley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge.

During Sweet's memorial service near Northwood High, attendees said her name defined her.

"You always knew when Ashton was around," classmate Cindy Harris said during the service. "You could hear her laugh for miles."

Sweet, who would have turned 17 Monday, was considering attending culinary school and starting her own catering business. Around the four-month anniversary of her death, family and friends planted a tree at Culver and Irvine in her memory.

Farley faces a maximum 21 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced at hearing scheduled for Nov. 15.


Twitter: @BradleyZint

Bradley Zint is a staff writer for Times Community News.