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Driver released in fatal 4th of July crash

Posted: December 15, 2011 6:37 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2011 6:37 p.m.

The young woman sentenced last month in connection with the 2010 Independence Day traffic death of a Newhall mother of three is out of jail.

Melissa Brigitte Brown, 23, of Canyon Country, who was sentenced to 180 days in Los Angeles County jail after pleading no contest to manslaughter charges in the death of Matilde Garnica, was released from custody Sunday, 67 days ahead of schedule.

According to booking records maintained and updated by the Inmate Information Center of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, at the beginning of the month Brown had a projected early release date of Dec. 21.

That date was advanced even further by 10 days.

Updated booking records issued by the same department indicate Brown was released from the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood on Sunday.

On Nov. 9, Brown was sentenced to 180 days in the Los Angeles County jail but was given credit for time served behind bars and under house arrest.

On that day, she was led from the court room by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and taken directly into custody to begin serving the balance of that sentence: 99 days.

If she had served her full 99-day sentence, Brown would have been released Feb. 16, 2012.

In addition to her 180-day sentence, Brown was also placed on three years' probation and ordered to complete 80 hours of community service.

Specifically, she was ordered to speak to high school students about her case as part of her community service.

On July 4, 2010, Matilde Garnica Juarez, a Newhall mother of three, was crushed when the car Brown was driving collided with another car and careened into the crowd at Valencia Boulevard and Mall Entrance Drive.

On Oct. 24, Brown spared the Garnica family the torment of a trial - which would likely have included graphic video evidence of the crash - when she entered a plea of "no contest" to the charge in San Fernando Superior Court.
By assuming responsibility, she short-circuited the prospect of a lengthy trial.

Brown is a student at California State University, Northridge, according to her Facebook page.




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