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ROCKVILLE – Bianca Machuca was sentenced to 18 months in the county detention center for negligent homicide, following a night of drinking, after which she drove over a pedestrian and continued driving as she dragged his body beneath her car.
Machuca, 25, was sentenced on Jan. 26 to five years with all but 18 months suspended, followed by five years of supervised probation in connection with the June 9, 2018 accident in Wheaton on University Boulevard West near Fern Street. This was her second driving-under- the-influence arrest.
Edwin Diaz, 38, of Silver Spring, who had been walking on the sidewalk by a gasoline station, died two days later in the hospital.
Machuca had pleaded guilty in November.
According to testimony during the 90-minute sentencing, Machuca went out drinking with friends. As she consumed beer and shots, she continually texted other friends what she was drinking and how drunk she was.
Her texts, which were shown on a large screen in the courthouse, included her strategy to drink alcohol for a while and then switch over to water to sober up. In one text she boasted, “Even plan out my drunk nites.”
About two hours before the accident, Machuca texted, “Can we talk about this later please. I am drunk.”
In subsequent texts, she posted photos of the shots and beer she consumed.
During sentencing, District Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer said, “There isn’t any excuse, because there is Uber and a cell phone” to call for a ride.
“Drunk driving is just like loading a gun and firing randomly,” Schweitzer said. Diaz died “because of the choices you made. You set this in motion,” Schweitzer said, adding, “Edwin Diaz deserved better.”
Moments before receiving her sentence, Machuca apologized “to the family for the pain I have caused,” said Machuca.
“I think about him every day. He is someone I will always remember and [will] remain in my prayers.”
During her short speech, she never glanced over at Diaz’s relatives, who attended her sentencing.
Diaz’s sister and brother-in-law also testified. Through tears and relying on an interpreter to relay her words, Elsa Cabrera said, “I have no words to tell you the damage this has done to my family.”
Cabrera continued, “He was a good person who was working hard to support his son, his mother and us. Since his death, everything has virtually changed.”
Oscar Cabrera, who lost his job because he took too much time off to be with his wife following her brother’s death, described his brother-in-law as “timid, soft spoken, a good person.”
Also addressing the court through her tears was Machuca’s older sister, Rocio Latorre, who said, “In the past, my sister has made some decisions that we have not always been happy about.”
However, Latorre said, her sister “has changed her whole life,” since the fatal accident.
Machuca’s attorney, David Krum, told the court that his client has taken responsibility for her action. Krum said he did not want her to go to jail, but rather remain home to raise her 17-month-old child.
Krum placed some of the blame for Machuca’s actions that night on a “system that failed her,” for barely punishing her the first time she was arrested for driving under the influence.
At that time, in 2016, she was given probation before judgment and ordered to pay a fine.
“She knows she deserves to be punished,” Krum said.
“She recognizes that she made a great error,” he said, adding, “She is an alcoholic. She admits that. She is a person who has come to terms with that.”
Kyle O’Grady, assistant state’s attorney, requested a five-year-sentencing, noting that the time Machuca is away from her child is only temporary, while Diaz “will be gone forever.”
According to O’Grady, Machuca struck Diaz and then stopped her car about 30 feet away, sitting there for six-and-a-half minutes with her car’s headlights “pointing directly at Mr. Diaz.”
Still, he said, “She didn’t stop then. She could have.”
Rather than see what happened after hitting a 250-pound man, Machuca continued on, giving up a chance to perhaps save Diaz’s life, rather than drag his body with her car, O’Grady said. “She killed Edwin Diaz. We can’t get around that.”