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After Pleading Guilty, Woman Faces Nearly 20 Years For Crash That Killed Daughter, 8

September 17, 2018

SCRANTON — A 28-year-old city woman who pleaded guilty to a couple of felonies Monday faces a maximum of nearly 20 years in prison for a 2017 crash that killed her 8-year-old daughter.

Linette Villa-Vale appeared before Lackawanna County Judge Margaret Bisignani Moyle, raised her right hand and acknowledged her role in the death of her daughter, Andrea Nicole Morales.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Gallagher went through the allegations behind the charges and, after each one, Moyle asked, “did you do that ma’am?”

Villa-Vale’s reply was low enough that they could not be made out from the courtroom’s gallery, but the nod of her head was plainly visible.

Villa-Vale pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault by vehicle and driving under the influence for the deadly crash. She also pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, admitting that she did not follow verbal commands when officers went to arrest her in March.

She faces a maximum possible sentence of 19½ years in state prison and $50,000 in fines. The only issues she can appeal after she is sentenced are the jurisdiction of the court, that her plea was voluntary and the legality of Moyle’s sentence.

Villa-Vale signaled that she understood.

On June 25, 2017, police said she drove recklessly and high on cocaine and marijuana until she struck a guardrail on the McDade Expressway on the bridge over Court Street.

Her 8-year-old, who wore a loose-fitting seat belt, died instantly. Her younger daughter, Gilianys Morales, who was 6 years old at the time of the accident, survived but continues to recover from her injuries. She suffered skull, rib and facial fractures.

Two drivers told police that Villa has passed their cars at a high speed. A police accident reconstruction expert concluded that she drove faster than 85 mph in the moments before the crash. The expressway speed limit is 50 mph.

Moyle ordered a presentencing investigation and told Villa-Vale that she will impose her sentence in about 90 days.

Contact the writer: jkohut@timesshamrock.com, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT on Twitter

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