It's been two years since 54-year-old Linda Smaltz was killed at the hands of a drunk Texas Tech student. On the day her trial was scheduled to begin, 23-year-old Jeena Roberts plead guilty.
Now a former student, Roberts plead guilty to intoxicated manslaughter Monday. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
"I think being sentenced to fifteen years in the Texas penitentiary, I would hope has a, no pun intended, very sobering effect on an individual," Prosecutor Tom Brummett said.
Roberts was also sentenced to eight years for intoxicated assault. The concurrent terms will allow her to be eligible for parole after seven and a half.
"This was an awful crash," Brummett said. "Out of all the ones I've prosecuted, this is probably the worst one I've seen so far."
Roberts was a petroleum engineering major at Texas Tech, returning by bus from a school-sponsored trip. She told investigators she had been drinking on the bus before she rear-ended an SUV on 4th Street near Buddy Holly Avenue, killing Smaltz and injuring two others. Police reports show she had a blood alcohol content level of .25, nearly three times the legal limit. Roberts' lack of remorse is said to have played into her sentence.
"Obviously, the attitude of the individual at the scene, what we may or may not have on videos, how they behave with the officers there. That's all going to come in as evidence, that may sway somebody towards the higher end or the lower end," Brummett said. "At the same time, you also have to realize that you're dealing with an intoxicated person. Strange behavior, maybe being belligerent, or acting in a manner that's not normal for them, goes hand in hand with intoxication."
Smaltz's mother and two daughters gave victim impact statements.
Daughter Bethany Vasquez said, in part, "You are sitting there, thinking it's not fair to you, but your mom is sitting right there."
"You never apologized, and you cry for yourself, but not for others," daughter Laura Smaltz said.
The judge will allow Roberts to spend Christmas with her family. She is ordered to surrender in January.
Ricky Warbritton out of El Paso confirms that Smalt'z daughter will file a civil suit against Roberts. No demands have been revealed.