During a court trial hearing Friday, Nov. 16, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Philip H. Pennypacker sentenced Timothy Priolo for the offenses—the first one which took Vega's life, a passenger in the front seat of Priolo's black Ford Mustang.
The solicitation of murder charge stemmed from investigations which revealed that between March 24 and May 18, 2010, Priolo plotted with Daniel Chavez to kill a Santa Clara County assistant district attorney while in jail, said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny.
In total, Priolo had been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, felony fleeing from a police officer causing the death of another person, misdemeanor driving on a suspended or revoked license and felony solicitation of murder.
Vega's father was present during the sentence and spoke about the loss of his son due to the accident.
Prosecutors had sought an enhancement to the charges due to injuries suffered by one of the two other passengers who were also riding in the car during the fatal crash that occurred when Priolo's vehicle crashed into a tree and two poles at the intersection of Los Gatos Boulevard and Nino Avenue.
Priolo, 26, had plead no contest to the charges. An enhancement sought for Leon's injuries added three years to his sentence.
Passengers Arturo Leon and Nicholas Chadbourne suffered a fractured vertebra and fractures on both legs, respectively. "These passengers have not been right since the day of the accident. Leon is suffering from a debilitating back injury and the other passenger has his legs shattered," McInerny said.
Priolo's license had been suspended as he was facing a DUI charge, which is "probably the reason he was fleeing from the police," the prosecutor added.
"The Vega family is very forgiving toward Mr. Priolo, but they were misled about some of the facts in the case," McInerny said.
Priolo will have to serve 85 percent of his time in prison, as opposed to 50 percent. He had credit for about 1,000 days of jail time served, McInerny noted. "He probably has another seven or eight years to serve," he said.
McInerny explained Priolo was entitled to a sentencing hearing before Jude Pennypacker where he could have presented evidence as to why he should be placed on probation and not serve any jail time.
"I presented evidence of his driving history and why I felt he should be given the maximum possible sentence and the defense presented evidence of medical conditions that they felt were important in the sentencing," McInerny said, adding that he was asking for a 15-year prison sentence. "We're satisfied with the sentence."
McInerny claims Priolo was driving 150 mph in a 25 mph zone and had smoked marijuana the night of the accident. "His conduct was so bad and so egregious and somebody died as a result of that. He deserved to go to prison for the most amount of time allowed by law."
Attorney Robert Coppola, who represented Priolo, has not returned phone calls seeking comment.
The case finally saw justice after almost three years in the legal system, NcInerny noted. He will now be reviewed by the Santa Clara County Department of Corrections which will study Priolo's case and determine the best jail placement for him, McInerny.