SANTA ANA, Calif. – A drunken driver was sentenced to 18 years to life in state prison today for the murder of an elderly woman and injury of her grandson in a hit-and-run crash. Kelly Michele Wolfe, 47, Capistrano Beach, was found guilty by a jury on Sept. 28, 2015, of one felony count each of murder, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more and causing bodily injury, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and a sentencing enhancement for driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. on July 4, 2013, Wolfe drove a Volkswagen van northbound on El Camino Real in San Clemente while under the influence of alcohol and without a valid driver's license. The defendant ran over the victim, 76-year-old Marthann Demchuk, who was standing in the gutter while her then 12-year-old blind grandson, Mason F. was on the curb holding her arm. They were watching some small fireworks displays that were being set off before the main city firework show. Wolfe crashed into the victims with her vehicle, fled the scene of the collision, and failed to render aid to the victims. The defendant drove home while her horn sounded in an attempt to avoid being caught. The defendant was contacted by the Orange County Sheriff Department, who investigated this case and subsequently arrested Wolfe after damage to her vehicle was found to be consistent with the debris at the scene.
Wolfe had a blood alcohol content of .31 percent at approximately 10:39 p.m., approximately two hours after the crash. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported the victims to the hospital. Mason F. was treated for injuries as a result of the crash, including abrasions to his face, mouth and legs. Demchuck died as a result of the injuries that she sustained from the crash.
Wolfe has a prior DUI conviction from Nevada in 1995 where she completed a DUI class and attended a Victim Impact Panel. The defendant received a Watson advisement when she renewed her California driver's license in 2008, which gave her prior knowledge that she could be charged with murder if she killed a person while driving under the influence.
At Wolfe's sentencing today, family members of Marthann Demchuk delivered victim impact statements to the court pursuant to Marsy's Law. The victim's daughter said in part, “words cannot express the pain and anguish our family and friends endured since our mother's death. The defendant's decision to drive drunk and take the life of another human being, with no regard for the effect it may have on others, is unimaginable.”
The victim's son also delivered an impact statement which he said in part, “Ms. Wolfe has never taken responsibility for her actions on that night. She literally drove away and thought she could get away with murder. She tried to convince a jury that she wasn't the driver. Remorse was never expressed during her whole jury trial and mercy should not be shown on her. She should receive the maximum sentence allowable by law.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 14HF2315 / November 20, 2015