Sunny Hall’s surprise guilty pleas
By Neal Putnam
For The Alpine Sun
EL CAJON---Sunny May Hall made a surprise guilty plea Tuesday when she admitted she committed gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the 2012 deaths of Alpine resident Angela August and Jimmy Arevalo, a teacher.
Hall, 31, of Lakeside, is expected to receive a 9-year prison term, said Deputy District Attorney Doug Rose, who said probation was ruled out.
“She’s going to state prison,” said Rose.
El Cajon Superior Court Judge John Thompson allowed her to remain free on $350,000 bond until her March 3 sentencing.
The pleas surprised Dawn August, the mother of one victim, and she told KGTV Channel 10 the proposed sentence wasn’t enough “for taking down two people the way she did.”
She didn’t brake, she didn’t swerve. There was no awareness of how dangerous she was that night,” said Dawn August to KGTV Channel 10. “I think she needs to be off the street. I think she’s a danger.”
The incident occurred on June 11, 2012, on Interstate 8 near Tavern Road at 2:58 a.m. after the Toyota Yaris that Angela August, 25, was driving drifted right. August apparently overcorrected to the left and it went up an embankment and rolled over, coming to rest in the one and two lanes.
Arevalo, 59, of El Centro, saw what happened and he pulled his car over, but didn’t realize part of it was sticking into the number one lane. He walked over to August in her car, and was on his cell phone with the California Highway Patrol when he was struck and killed by Hall, whose blood/alcohol level was .15, almost twice the legal limit for drunk driving.
Arevalo’s last words were recorded and played at the preliminary hearing on Aug. 27. Arevalo said “there’s a lady trapped in there,” referring to August, and his words were cut off when he was struck. Hall’s attorneys have argued that August may have been already dead before Hall’s Audi A-6 crashed into the cars on the freeway. Expert witnesses said they believed August survived the first rollover, but was killed when Hall’s vehicle came through.
Rose said the guilty pleas to all charges mean the families won’t have to go through a 3-week trial in which that issue would be argued before a jury. If she was convicted at trial, Hall could have appealed her convictions. She could have faced 14 years in prison.
Arevelo’s widow spoke on Tuesday to the judge as she lives in Imperial County and will not be able to attend the sentencing. She talked about the irony of how her husband told his students to not drink and drive and he personally did not drink alcohol.
Two other motorists came upon the scene before Hall, but both drivers pulled over at the side of the road. Hall’s vehicle struck one of their cars also.
Hall has prior criminal convictions for forgery, possessing stolen property, unlawful possession of methadone, and jumping bail in Washington.