A woman who drove drunk after a night out with co-workers at Kearny Mesa and run over a colleague as he tried to stop her from driving, killing him, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday for life.
Latisha Ingram, 35, was convicted last year of second degree murder and other charges for the death on June 27, 2019, of Ha Minh Ta, 25, who worked with the accused at a branch of Bank of America in Clairemont.
According to prosecutors, Ingram’s blood alcohol content was measured at 0.18 percent, more than double the legal limit. She was charged with murder due to a 2010 drinking and driving conviction in Orange County.
Prosecutors said after 20 minutes of trying to convince Ingram not to go home drunk, Ta grabbed his car as it was starting up and was dragged some distance before falling under the tires. .
Ingram’s lawyer, Monique Carter, argued at trial that her client was not guilty of murder because she had no idea the victim had clung to her car and therefore had no the conscious disregard for human life necessary for a conviction for second degree murder. Carter told jurors that the whole incident happened within seconds, so quickly that Ingram didn’t even realize that Ta had clung to his car or been run over.
The jury found her guilty on all counts, including second degree murder. NBC 7’s Allison Ash reports.
Ingram and Ta met two other colleagues for an after-dinner drink and the accused decided to go home despite having “begged her, begging her not to drive”, according to the district attorney. Deputy Phillippa Cunningham.
Ta and her colleague Gabriela Rojo tried to dissuade Ingram from getting behind the wheel, according to Rojo, who testified in tears that she urged Ingram to call a carpool service.
Surveillance footage released for the jury showed Ta and Rojo hugging Ingram and trying to pull him away from his car. At one point, Ta appeared to take Ingram’s purse away from her.
As Ingram exited the parking lot and turned south on Convoy Street, Ta was holding her car and fell on the street. He was run over by the rear tires and the accused continued to drive, Cunningham said.
Paramedics transported Ta to hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Ingram was arrested soon after.
At Ingram’s sentencing hearing, statements from Ta’s brother and father were read, in which they said Ta was the sole caregiver for his parents, who were suffering from medical conditions.
The victim’s older brother, Truc Ta, who was attending medical school and was away from the family at the time of Ta’s death, wrote that the last thing his brother said to his mother was to promise to ” get home as soon as he made sure his manager didn’t drive drunk. “
Truc Ta said Ingram “took whatever brought me happiness and motivated me in life,” noting that the brothers’ mother also died about three months after her youngest son. He wrote that she had been diagnosed with cancer a few years earlier, but after her son died she “lost the will to live” and stopped receiving chemotherapy.
“She cried every night for three months, her son missing, until the day she passed away,” he wrote.
Cunningham told San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh it was “a tragic situation”, but “also completely preventable.”
Carter urged the judge to take into account that he saw only a brief glimpse into his client’s life and character during the trial and that “apart from the horrific events of that evening,” Ingram was loved by friends and family.
Among several character letters submitted by many close to Ingram, the judge pointed to one in particular that described Ingram as a great listener, something he said was not apparent on the night of Ta’s death.
“Your friends were trying to watch over you because, number one, they didn’t want you arrested, and number two, they didn’t want you to hurt anyone,” Deddeh told Ingram. “You didn’t take the good advice your friends were giving you.”