INDIO- About 30 people upset over what they call the “preferential treatment” of an intoxicated hit-and-run motorist who struck and killed a pregnant 18-year-old woman demanded Wednesday that the woman, now free on bail, be locked up immediately.
Gina Garcia, whose husband is an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office, is free to attend to an unspecified medical problem. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Graham Cribbs accepted a plea agreement from her on Monday, in which she admitted to the hit-and-run accident and being intoxicated.
Cribbs gave Garcia a 15-year sentence, but allowed her to remain free on $25,000 bail.
Danica Denton’s family was outraged by the plea agreement, which they say does not account for the death of Denton’s unborn child.
The group marched from the Larson Justice Center to the District Attorney’s offices on the fourth floor of the Riverside County Administration Building.
“We want justice. We want justice,” the group chanted.
Denton was fatally struck around 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 while crossing East Palm Canyon Drive at Van Fleet Avenue in Cathedral City. The mother-to-be died a shortly afterward, and doctors were unable to save her child.
Many of the basic facts of the case have not been disclosed, in part because of the plea agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the case. It was unclear what substance led to the driving while intoxicated charge or why Garcia fled the accident.
The group met with a spokesman for the District Attorney about 20 minutes, then left.
“I wanted to make sure our office was as open as it could be about our role in this case,” said spokesman Michael Jeandron. “This case didn’t even make it through our front door … The only decision we were faced with in this case was whether or not to accept it.”
Jeandron said he directed to group to address its concerns to the state Attorney General’s Office.
“I thought it was a very positive discussion,” Jeandron said. “I thought that they at least had an understanding of what our role was.”
Garcia is due back in court June 22 to provide proof of her medical status, and at that point will consider a request by her legal team for an Aug. 14 surrender date.
Denton’s family members and activists want Garcia locked up immediately. They also believe Garcia should have been charged with death of the unborn child.
The Rev. Carl McPeters, who said he was speaking for the Denton family, said he wants Garcia’s husband arrested, because he supposedly helped arrange his wife’s surrender, bail and immediate release.
The Riverside County District’s Attorney Office recused itself from the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, and a spokesman has denied that Garcia was given preferential treatment because of her husband’s job in the office.