Woman who drove drunk, killed mom avoids jail

A Yonkers woman who drove drunk and wound up killing her own mother received a sentence without jail time Thursday.

Mercedes Cha, 42, was sentenced to five years probation as part of a plea deal in which she pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and negligent homicide. The judge cited Cha?s suffering from having her own mother die in the crash and her health problems as reasons for the probation sentence.

Cha was coming home from celebrating her birthday last October in the Bronx when she crashed her car into a barrier on the New York State Thruway in Yonkers. Her mother, 61-year-old Gardenia Brae, was not wearing a seat belt and died on impact, police said. Cha had a blood alcohol level of .21, nearly three times the legal limit. Police said she also had Valium in her system.During his client's sentencing, Cha's attorney said she was suffering from depression and was earlier diagnosed with breast cancer. The judge told Cha if it had been anyone other than her own mother who had died, she would have gone to state prison.

Prosecutors said they wanted Cha to spend some time in prison. Assistant District Attorney Frederic Green said it was a ?classic case of a drunk driver who puts their own interests selfishly above other passengers and everyone else in the community.?

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