On Tuesday, 52-year old Sherri Wilkins, a California drug addiction counselor, was found guilty of second degree murder for a DUI that led to the death of a pedestrian.
In November of 2012, Wilkins was driving with twice the legal blood-alcohol limit when her convertible hit Phillip Moreno who was walking home from his local bar. The impact caused Moreno to become lodged in Wilkins’s windshield. Wilkins then drove nearly two miles with Moreno lodged in her windshield before a group of witnesses forced her to stop and pulled the keys from the car.
Wilkins was convicted of first-degree burglary in 1989 and, while in custody, convicted of possession of narcotics. In 1994, she was convicted of burglary and sentence to nine years in prison. Again, while in custody, Wilkins was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in 2001. She was paroled in 2008.
Putting her past behind her, she enrolled in and attended Loyola Marymount University’s drug counseling certification program. Upon graduation, she was hired by Twin Town Treatment Centers in 2011 to work in counseling addicts.
“It’s a really tragic situation for both parties,” said her neighbor, Crystal Witherspoon. “I’m trying to understand it myself, because from what I knew of her, she was a kind-hearted person. She was trying very hard.”
Wilkins told the jury presiding over her case that she was “self-medicating” with alcohol on the night she hit Moreno.
Wilkins faces a 45-year to life sentence as a result of California’s three strikes law. The second-degree murder charge is her third felony conviction.
“We’ve gotten some calls from people saying, ‘She really saved my life,’” said Tami Jimenez, a co-worker of Wilkins. “Everybody loved Sherri, the employees, the patients, just everybody loved her.”
This just goes to show that addiction is a never ending battle.