BARRETO
Dan Rosenstrauch  /  Pool via AP
Jimena Barreto was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison during a court hearing in Martinez, Calif., on Friday.
updated 6/24/2005 6:44:52 PM ET 2005-06-24T22:44:52

A nanny was sentenced Friday to 30 years to life in prison after being convicted last month of murder in the hit-and-run deaths of two children.

Jimena Barreto, 46, got down on her knees and sobbed as she read a two-page letter expressing her remorse for the deaths of Troy Pack, 10, and his sister, Alana, 7. The children were riding a scooter and a bike on their way to get Slurpees with their mother and friends when they were struck on a sidewalk near their Danville home.

Barreto, who had four previous convictions for driving while intoxicated, had been seen drinking earlier in the day and then spotted driving erratically in her gold 1979 Mercedes before the crash on Oct. 26, 2003. She swerved across two lanes without braking and smashed into the siblings. Barreto has denied drinking, but she admits taking prescription drugs, a painkiller and a muscle relaxant, earlier that day.

Judge Mary Ann O’Malley, who had received letters from Barreto’s family and former employers attesting to her character, imposed the maximum sentence for the two counts of second-degree murder. The two sentences of 15 years to life will run consecutively.

'Deeply sorry'
Barreto begged for forgiveness from the judge and the children’s parents — who also cried throughout the proceeding — saying she was a good person and never meant to hurt anybody.

“I am deeply sorry. I’m the sole cause of the terrible pain you are going through,” Barreto said, struggling to get the words out. “I will not stop asking you and begging you and praying for you that you will forgive me one day.”

The parents, Robert and Carmen Pack, would not make eye contact with Barreto as she sobbed and read from the letter addressed to them. Both the mother and father, who pressured prosecutors to charge Barreto with murder instead of manslaughter, also addressed the court, describing their bottomless despair at losing their only two children in a matter of seconds.

Carmen Pack said she cried herself to sleep every night and instead of celebrating Halloween, Christmas and Easter with her family, she brings flowers to her son and daughter’s graves.

Undying pain
“I loved my children more than my own life and if I haven’t committed suicide yet it’s because I want to see them in heaven,” she said. “My pain is going to be forever. ... I want the defendant to be punished forever as well.”

Robert Pack urged O’Malley to overlook Barreto’s expressions of remorse and to judge her by her actions the day of the crash, when she fled the scene and then remained at-large for two days before police caught up with her. Pack arrived at the scene minutes after the collision to find strangers tending to his mortally wounded son and daughter.

“I held them until they died on the sidewalk — where was she?” Pack said, gesturing toward Barreto. “She ran because she has been in denial for a long time.”

Defense lawyer Craig Wormley said outside court that appealing her conviction remained a possibility.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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