BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — On April 17, 2021, Liela Brunton, mother to a young daughter and 6 months pregnant, received a phone call that changed her life.
Her fiance, David Lee Marks, had been riding a motorcycle when he was hit by a drunk driver traveling 70 mph. He spent a month in a coma. When he awoke he could only move his hands.
Marks became “mad at the world” and fell into a deep depression, Brunton wrote in a letter read Wednesday in Superior Court. His daughter did what she could to put him at ease, and his mother provided care around the clock.
Marks, 46, died eight months later of complications from the crash, the letter said.
“Not only have I lost the love of my life, but I’m a single mother struggling to provide for my kids,” Brunton wrote.
Michelle Rickman, the motorist who hit Marks, pleaded no contest to DUI causing injury then failed to show for her sentencing hearing. She hid instead, prosecutor Tara Deal said. Authorities located and rearrested her last month.
Rickman, 36, was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison.
The crash happened around 10 p.m. on South Chester Avenue at the Highway 58 eastbound onramp. Police said Rickman was driving a silver sedan when she rear-ended Marks.
A bystander performed CPR on Marks before emergency medical crews arrived and rushed him to a hospital.
Rickman tried to flee but a law enforcement helicopter followed her and she was taken into custody, police said.
She was charged with felony DUI and DUI causing injury, two hit-and-run charges and driving without a license and proof of insurance. Rickman entered a no-contest plea in November and the other charges were dismissed, according to court records.