LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A judge sentenced a woman convicted of driving under the influence and causing a crash that killed a mother and grandmother to a minimum of six years in prison, telling her in court Tuesday she “had nowhere left to hide.”
Gilma Rodriguez-Walters, 53, was killed in the December 2019 crash. She was on her way home from work at a Las Vegas-area Home Depot when Marsha Byrd crashed into her.
Rodriguez-Walters was minutes from home, her family said Tuesday.
Byrd was passing other cars and speeding on Tropical Parkway near Torrey Pines Drive when she lost control of her car and crashed into Rodriguez-Walters. Witnesses and a residential surveillance camera indicated her Mercedes SUV was off the road at one point before the wreck.
In addition to alcohol, a blood test found prescription medications in her system, including Nordazepam, Diazepam and Hydrocodone, police said. After her arrest, Judge Douglas Herndon, who now sits on the Nevada Supreme Court, set bail at $25,000.
Two months later, Byrd was back in court, accused of violating the conditions of her release. Court documents indicate testing found alcohol in her system. Prosecutors argued for Herndon to increase bail to $100,000 and put Byrd on house arrest, warning she could flee.
Byrd’s attorney argued his client was battling breast cancer and that the alcohol in her system may have been from hair products she was using. Byrd denied consuming any alcohol since the crash. Herndon declined to raise bail but instead ordered Byrd not to drive.
Byrd was due in court on Feb. 1 and did not show. In court paperwork filed in March, Byrd’s lawyer said a nurse had written down an incorrect court date, which later prompted a judge to issue a warrant for her arrest.
Byrd later agreed to a plea deal of 2-20 years in prison on charges of driving under the influence resulting in death and reckless driving. Judge Eric Johnson had the final say in sentencing.
“I’m here to apologize to the family,” Byrd said Tuesday. “I’m so, so sorry.”
Johnson, who took over the case, did not believe Byrd’s act.
“My mom was just three blocks from her home that day,” Rodriguez-Walters’ daughter, Andrea Lopez, told the court before sentencing.
“My daughter, who shares the same birthday as her grandmother, still cries for her grandma,” Ruth Neall, Rodriguez-Walters’ daughter said.
Rodriguez-Walters’ family and Johnson accused Byrd of using every trick to extend her freedom.
“We’ve seen her dressed in a bright red suit hair and makeup done, walk into the courtroom, sit on the bench, and apply bandages inside of the courtroom in an effort to gain sympathy,” Rodriguez-Walters’ daughter, Mariela Amaro, said.
Byrd spoke out of turn several times while Johnson sentenced her.
“I lost control of the car,” she said.
“I don’t really feel that you have any real remorse in this instance,” Johnson said. “You are here because ultimately, you had nowhere left to hide.”
As Johnson announced his sentence, Byrd again spoke out of turn.
“I have remorse!” she said.
A bailiff then handcuffed Byrd and took her to jail. Johnson also ordered her to pay a fine.