VALLEY SPRINGS (CBS13) — A Calaveras County couple grapples with anger and disbelief after learning the sentence of the drunk driver convicted of killing their daughter.
They describe the sentence Judge Timothy Healy gave defendant Donald Jackson as nothing close to justice.
“Obviously he values a killer’s life more than an innocent woman’s life,” said Dana Lund.
The district attorney asked for 12 years in prison, but the judge settled on a much shorter sentence.
Chelsea Lund, 27, lost her life in a crash near Valley Springs in 2018. Her then eight-year-old son Kaiden was severely injured. The family said they were inseparable until this drunk driver forced them apart forever.
“Our grandson told us: “We saw the bright lights. mommy screamed, mommy said bad words and everything went black,” said Dana Lund, Chelsea’s mom.
Police said Jackson was driving drunk and crossed a double yellow line, slamming into Chelsea’s car head-on on a country road.
The Calaveras County District Attorney’s office said Jackson admitted to it all, pleading no contest to vehicular manslaughter, driving drunk and attempting to cover up the crime.
Chelsea Lund lost her life and her son was physically and mentally injured. Chelsea’s parents were left to pick up the pieces.
“The ligaments that hold your head to your body were stretched to the point where he could not support his own head,” said her father, Richard Lund.
This was not the end of Dana and Richard Lund’s pain.
Jackson was sentenced last Friday to one year in county jail and five years of probation. This after the prosecuting attorney asked for more than a decade in prison.
The DA’s office released a statement clearly upset about this case and said, “Chelsea’s loss and her child’s injuries more than justified a lengthy sentence.”
“By doing this and letting him out all he’s taught him is that he got away with it. That he can kill someone and that’s fine,” said Dana Lund.
Her husband added, “He pled to all those charges and got sentenced for none of them.”
Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel said there’s more to this ruling. Court records show the judge did give Jackson a longer sentence of eight years and eight months in prison, but he suspended that sentence, meaning Jackson would only serve that time if he violates probation.
“The judge is taking into consideration that this is a person who’s been in jail for 14 months, ordered another year of jail, but then hung over their head this eight-year, eight-month sentence,” Reichel said,
Reichel described the sentence as a huge benefit to Jackson and said his show of remorse in court likely played a factor.
But the Lund family is left feeling cheated.
“We can’t ever have her back but he gets his life back,” Dana Lund said.