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Driver gets 8 years for grad night crash

Staff reports


A drunk driver who killed Ashland High School student Leah Castillo on graduation day last year was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Jonathon Guevarra, 20, of Eagle Point sobbed throughout Wednesday&

s proceeding in Jackson County Circuit Court. He was drunk at the time of the June — collision, and his urine contained evidence of marijuana and cocaine use, said Allan Smith, a deputy district attorney.

An Ashland police officer had tried to stop Guevarra and a car he was apparently racing. The other car stopped, but Guevarra pulled into oncoming traffic.

Castillo was on her way to a parent-sponsored, all-night graduation party when Guevarra&

s Chevrolet Blazer swerved into the path of her car. The 18-year-old had earned a full scholarship to Arizona State University. She wanted to become a nurse.


He took away a bright future from society,&

said Devin Smith, 39, of Ashland, the ex-husband of Castillo&

s mother, Caitlin Therien.

Therien did not attend the sentencing because &

it was just too hard,&

said her roommate, Holli McDonald, 36.

McDonald, who stroked a photo of Castillo in her white graduation cap and gown, later hugged Guevarra&

s family and accepted their condolences.


You guys weren&

t the ones drinking,&

McDonald said. &

This was a big mistake. There&

s no hate coming from me.&

Guevarra pleaded guilty to manslaughter and driving under the influence of intoxicants. He also admitted to violating his diversion agreement on a 2004 DUII.



m sorry,&

Guevarra told Smith and McDonald. &

That doesn&

t mean anything.&

Because of Guevarra&

s prior DUII, Circuit Court Judge Bill Purdy ordered him to serve an extra year and nine months above the mandatory prison term.


I don&

t understand how someone who was on diversion can get their license back just to kill another person,&

Devin Smith said.


I don&

t think he should ever drive again.&

Guevarra will be eligible to reclaim his driver&

s license eight years after his release.