Obdulia Sanchez was on the verge of taking her case to trial when attorneys and a Merced County judge on Tuesday had several conversations about a plea agreement.
The 18-year-old Stockton woman then changed her plea on seven felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter, DUI and child endangerment, to "no contest" and may receive less than the maximum sentence at her next hearing.
Now she could face upwards of 12 years in prison, to probation.
Sanchez was driving a white Buick Century on July 21 west on Henry Miller Road north of Los Banos, east of Highway 140, when it crashed and rolled over off the south end of the road, police said.
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The crash killed Sanchez's 14-year-old sister, Jacqueline Sanchez, and injured her sister's 15-year-old girlfriend, Manuela Ceja.
But it was the live Instagram video Sanchez was filming on her phone before, during and after the crash that went viral.
Sanchez was detained at the scene after she was belligerent due to the death of her sister, reportedly kicking and spitting at medics and police as they responded.
She was arrested after a blood test at Los Banos Memorial Hospital revealed her blood alcohol content was registered at .106 about 90 minutes after the crash.
A sentencing hearing was set for Feb. 6 after Sanchez pleaded on Tuesday.
Merced County Deputy District Attorney Tom Min said he will be seeking a maximum sentence of 12 years and four months in prison.
Sanchez's attorney, Merced County Public Defender Ramnik Samrao, said he will argue for probation instead of jail time.
"There are so many reasons weighing in her favor, especially the fact that all the victims involved want her to be released," Samrao said. He noted that there is optimism Sanchez would follow terms of probation because of her past, which includes a troubled foster care history.
Hansen said he may rule on a modified sentence of six years and four months in prison. But that could change at the sentencing hearing.
Hansen noted the severity of the crash and the poor judgment Sanchez made. He also called it an "accident" that killed Sanchez's sister, a fact Sanchez has to live with for the rest of her life.
While the maximum punishment is more than 12 years, Hansen said Sanchez's troubled youth in foster care, a topic he didn't want to explain further on the court record, and other factors convinced him to suggest an alternate sentence of six years and four months.
Samrao said while the defense is pleased with Hansen suggesting a shorter prison sentence, he still feels Sanchez's situation deserves more leniency.