Irvine man guilty of killing teen in DUI crash

An Irvine man was convicted Monday in connection to a drunk-driving incident that killed a teenager and injured four others, authorities said.

Austin Jeffrey Farley, 28, was found guilty of second-degree murder and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury.

He also received a sentencing enhancement for personally inflicting and causing great bodily injury and driving with blood alcohol content of .08% or more, causing bodily injury, according to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Farley faces a maximum sentence of 21 years to life in state prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled for Nov. 15 in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors said about 1:15 a.m. May 29, 2011, Farley was driving southbound on Culver Drive toward Irvine Boulevard. He made a left-hand turn against a red light and his 2003 Dodge Dakota hit a Mercedes-Benz sedan with five people inside.

One of passengers was Ashton Sweet, a 14-year-old cheerleader from Irvine who later died from injuries sustained during the collision.

The Northwood High School student suffered brain swelling, a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury, among other injuries, prosecutors said.

After her family chose to take her off life support, Sweet died at an area hospital. Her organs were donated.

The D.A.'s office said Farley, who was driving with his girlfriend, showed obvious signs of intoxication at the scene of the crash. He was unable to keep his balance as he exited his car.

Nearly two hours after the incident, Farley had a blood alcohol content of .20% — two and a half times the legal limit, 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 eyeing going to culinary school and maybe 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.

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