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Letter: Family hopes justice will be served

Two years ago my niece, Vanessa Tapetillo, and her fiancée, Juan Barragan, were killed by a drunk driver on the evening of May 8, 2015, in Chowchilla.

The drunk driver, had side-swiped two cars, continued to drive and drove off an over pass onto the top of Vanessa’s and Juan’s vehicle and killed them immediately. Two wonderful young people are dead and two families are devastated because of his selfish, inconsiderate choice to drive drunk. After 28 months(!), the drunk driver has yet to be put on trial. His defense attorney has submitted continuance after continuance after continuance which the judge and DA have allowed. California standards are that a person is usually brought to trial within 180 days of being charged.

This drunk driver has been walking around free for the past two years, going to movies, going out to dinner, enjoying time with his family and friends, but Vanessa and Juan have not had that luxury because they are DEAD, and he KILLED them!

In February, the drunk driver and his attorney did not appear for a court date. The sleazeball attorney gave the excuse that he had written down the wrong date. The Judge did not give either one of them any consequence for the non-appearance.

The DA’s office has not been keeping the families informed as to the developments, and, in fact, someone from the family has to call them to get any information. We have been told several times that a trial date will be set, soon, but that has not happened.

On June 20, I placed a call to the DA’s office and requested to speak to DA David Linn, personally. He assured me he would appear in court the following day and secure a court date, thus bringing an end to the delaying tactics of the defense.

On June 21, the Judge and DA finally said, “enough is enough”. The trial confirmation hearing is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2017 and the trial is scheduled for Oct. 31, 2017.

The two families are hopeful that no further delays will occur. We have been waiting more than two years for this drunken killer to be brought to justice. We now hope that justice for our precious Vanessa and Juan will be served, that we will be able to have closure, and that Vanessa and Juan can rest in peace.

Respectfully submitted,

— James R. Tapetillo and the Tapetillo family

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