Monday, November 14, 2011

Christina Hoffman

On September 12, 1997, Christina Hoffman, 18, was killed by drunk driving, illegal alien Salvadore Mejia, 21, an unlicensed driver from Mexico. Mejia had been drinking with buddies at a produce stand just south of Stockton before he got behind the wheel.

Witnesses reported seeing Mejia's truck weaving along Highway 99 just before it slammed into the rear of Christina Hoffman's Buick. The teen's car was disabled and sitting at the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing. Mejia allegedly had a blood alcohol level more than 3 times the state maximum when he lost control of his car and broadsided the Hoffman vehicle with Christina Hoffman and one passenger inside She used her cell phone to call a tow truck and her mother. Mrs Janice Hoffman. Who drove up moments after the crash and she watched in horror as her daughter, screaming in pain and trapped in the car, was cut from the vehicle. Hoffman's head hit the steering wheel in the impact and her brain was damaged. She died shortly thereafter at a hospital.


Over the advice of the presentencing report that recommended Mejia be sentenced to the maximum allowed by law, the district attorney entered into a plea bargain which would sentence Mejia to only 6 years in prison. He would be eligible for parole in 2 to 3 years. The Hoffmans collected numerous signatures and petitions, spoke to the media and spoke at the sentencing hearing. Judge Van Oss, the presiding judge, refused to honor the plea bargain.

In February Mejia reneged on the plea bargain and changed his plea to not guilty. His trial began on March 30. The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter while six months for the injury of the passenger. He will have to serve 50 percent of the sentence, less time served, or around 5 1/2 years.

Mejia will be deported after serving his sentence.

"The accident basically severed the family," recalled Carla Hoffman, Christina Hoffman's aunt.

After the accident, the teen's parents and siblings left California for Arizona. Marvin Hoffman, the girl's father, sued his father and brothers to dissolve the family's agricultural and trucking business. Family members left in the Manteca and Tracy area rarely speak to Christina Hoffman's immediate family, said Buzz Hoffman, her uncle.

June/July 1998, Volume 4, Issue 3

Justice for Murder Victims


DUI's culture gap - Latinos in S.J. account for disproportionate amount of arrests, by Rick Brewer


The family of a Manteca woman killed in a drunken-driving wreck arrived
in court Wednesday expecting to see the man who had pleaded guilty to killing
Christina Hoffman sentenced to 12 years in prison.

But at the last possible moment, Salvadore Mejia, 22, of Modesto withdrew
his plea and asked for a jury trial.

"We are going to have to relive the whole incident," said Marvin
Hoffman, the victim's father. "It's right back to the crime scene all
over again."

The crime scene was the shoulder of Highway 99, where Christina Hoffman
and her friends sat in a disabled car with their emergency lights flashing
as they waited for help to arrive the evening of Sept. 12.

Hoffman, 18, died after Mejia, who was driving uninsured and unlicensed,
slammed into the parked car, police said. Tests showed his blood-alcohol
level to be three times the legal limit, authorities said.

Judge Terrence Van Oss accepted Mejia's plea a couple of months ago,
indicating that he would sentence Mejia to seven years because there were
no aggravating factors to warrant the maximum term.

The sentencing fell to Superior Court Judge Michael Platt, however, who
threw out Mejia's plea and the sentencing deal after hearing the Hoffman
family's emotional pleas for justice.

After Mejia re-entered his guilty plea with Van Oss, the family wrote
letters to the Probation Department calling attention to Mejia's high blood-alcohol
level. Van Oss changed his mind and said he would sentence Mejia to 12 years,
but he gave Mejia the opportunity to change his plea.

If a jury convicts Mejia, the maximum sentence remains 12 years. A trial
date will be set Friday.

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