May 3, 1999: Steven Allen Abrams steers...
May 3, 1999: Steven Allen Abrams steers his 1967 Cadillac into the
playground at the Southcoast Early Childhood Learning Center, killing
two children, 4-year-old Sierra Soto and 3-year-old Brandon Wiener,
and injuring two others and a teacher’s aide.
May 5, 1999: A memorial service for the slain children is held at
the Lighthouse Coastal Community Church. Preschool Director Sheryl
Hawkinson collapses of an apparent heart attack prior to the service,
May 12, 1999: The center reopens, with many of the school’s
students and teachers returning.
Aug. 17, 1999: The mother of Sierra Soto, Cindy Soto Beckett,
creates Sierra’s Light, a foundation advocating safety guidelines for
child-care facilities in memory of her daughter.
Aug. 25, 1999: Costa Mesa City Manager Allan Roeder decides a
newly constructed wall at the preschool will remain, despite
opposition from neighbors.
Nov. 30, 1999: The Costa Mesa City Council approves a permit for
memorial plaque to be placed on the preschool’s wall.
Jan. 22, 2000: More than 100 people attend plaque dedication
ceremony at the preschool.
Jan. 27, 2000: The Wieners, whose son Brandon was killed in the
playground tragedy, file a civil lawsuit naming Abrams as well as
Hawkinson and the church.
March 15, 2000: The Sotos file a similar lawsuit.
March 24, 2000: Abrams is formally arraigned, pleading not guilty.
Aug. 17, 2000: Jury trial begins.
Aug. 24, 2000: A jury consisting of 10 women and two men finds
Abrams guilty of all charges -- two counts of murder, seven counts of
attempted murder and three counts of causing grievous bodily injury.
Oct. 23, 2000: The jury also finds Abrams “legally sane,” that
Abrams deliberately plowed his car into the playground with the
intent to murder the children.
Nov. 1, 2000: Jurors steer clear of the prosecution’s request to
give Abrams the death penalty. Instead, they give him life in prison
without the possibility of parole.
Dec. 15, 2000: Abrams is sentenced to life in prison without
parole by Orange County Superior Court Judge John Ryan.
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.