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Charette, Bryan

Charette

A Lompoc man was sentenced Friday to a decade in state prison for a fatal September 2018 crash that killed a 73-year-old Oxnard resident.

Bryan Charette, 36, was charged in with five counts (including felony murder and DUI) stemming from the September 21 crash on Highway 1 that killed Alfredo Garcia Martinez. In April, after originally pleading not guilty to all counts, Charette pleaded no contest to two felonies — gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater causing bodily injury — as part of a plea agreement.

"Driving while impaired is not only illegal, it is reckless and dangerous," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. The state Attorney General's Office prosecuted Charette at the request of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office, which declared a possible conflict of interest.

In a statement issued announcing the sentence, Becerra called Charette's behavior "unforgivably reckless and dangerous."

"Mr. Martinez’s death was tragic and preventable," he added. "No one should die at the hands of an intoxicated driver. My heart goes out to the family of Mr. Martinez.”

As part of the plea agreement, the felony DUI, reckless driving and murder charge were dismissed.

Charette was driving northbound on Highway 1 with a blood alcohol level of .179 — more than twice the legal limit — when he crossed the double yellow line and struck Martinez head-on, according to prosecutors. Martinez was pronounced dead at the scene, while Charette was airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with major injuries.

In victim impact statements submitted to accompany the plea agreement, Deborah Martinez called her father's death an immeasurable loss for the family.

"We struggle with the void my father left in our family," she wrote. "We go to bed wishing we could see his physical form in a dream or hear the vibration of his voice. We face every day with a heavy sorrow that is armored with strength in order to maintain his legacy of joy and positivity."

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Reach reporter Mathew Burciaga at 805-739-2205 or mburciaga@leecentralcoastnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @mathewburciaga

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Reporter

Mathew Burciaga is a Santa Maria Times reporter who covers education, agriculture and public safety. Prior to joining the Times, Mathew ran a 114-year-old community newspaper in Wyoming. He owns more than 40 pairs of crazy socks from across the globe.