Austin Jeffrey Farley Gets 21 Years to Life for DUI Murder of 14 y.o. Ashton Sweet: Update

Thumbnail image for Austin-Jeffrey-Farley_ipd.jpg
Austin Jeffrey Farley
An Irvine man who had a drunken driver conviction under his belt when he left a bar and plowed his truck into a car, killing a popular 14-year-old high school student and injuring four others, was sentenced today to 21 years to life in state prison.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin presided over the case--and handed down the maximum sentence--because all Orange County judges recused themselves. Jessica Rodriguez, who was in defendant Austin Jeffrey Farley's pickup at the time of the collision, is Orange County Superior Court Judge Luis Rodriguez's daughter.

Austin Jeffrey Farley Guilty of Murder in DUI Crash That Took 14 y.o. Ashton Sweet's Life

Brandlin handed down the sentence today in LA, but the trial was held in Westminster, where a jury on Oct. 7 found Farley guilty of felony second degree murder and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury with a sentencing enhancement for personally inflicting and causing great bodily injury and driving with blood alcohol .08 percent or more causing bodily injury.

Farley and Rodriguez, his girlfriend at the time, drank at a bar the evening of May 28, 2011, and then left via a cab to his truck parked at a friend's home, driving off for a food run. Heading south on Culver Drive in Irvine around 1:15 in the morning, Farley made a left-hand turn against a red light, plowing into the driver's side of a Mercedes-Benz sedan that had a green light.

Ashton-Sweet.jpg
Ashton Sweet, R.I.P.
The Benz driver and his teen daughter, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, suffered minor injuries from the impact of the crash. But a 14-year-old girl named Krista in one back seat was knocked unconscious and sustained a broken nose, a rib fracture, a lacerated spleen and lung injuries. Sitting next to her, Ashton Sweet, 14, suffered brain swelling, a skull fracture, collapsed lung, facial, rib, and spinal fractures and a traumatic brain injury. She died at Western Medical Center Santa Ana a 5 that morning.

An hour and 45 minutes after the crash, Farley had a blood alcohol content of .20 percent, two and a half times the legal limit, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).

"Farley had prior knowledge that driving while under the influence of alcohol could result in the death of another person based on a prior misdemeanor driving under the influence charge, to which he pleaded guilty on June 18, 2009," reads an OCDA statement. "At his sentencing in that case, the judge advised Farley that he could be prosecuted for murder if he killed someone while driving under the influence."

The jury rejected the defense argument that Farley did not cause the collision but Rodriguez did when she hit her then beau during a verbal fight just before the accident.

"When you talk about nightmares, they have already passed. This nightmare does not pass," Sweet's mother Elizabeth said today in a victim impact statement to the court. "My soul feels weary, as if I've lived far too long."

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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15 comments
Nicole Krramer
Nicole Krramer

@Kelly Jennings Cromwell I am sorry for your loss

Nicole Krramer
Nicole Krramer

Other than the fact my phone changes words on its own! Before you say too much your best friend, child, parent, spouse, could have several DUIs you don't even know about. It is very common in Orange County :-) and no I myself have not been convicted of one, but thank you all for your open minds.

Nicole Krramer
Nicole Krramer

You can all go off on me, most of it doesn't even notify me lol so whatever I will tell you I'm an insurance agent for a major company in southern Cali and I run peoples MVRs all day the majority of people I see from all walks of life have AT LEAST one DUI. And no we aren't geico or Fred loya we are the best. So if we didn't write auto insurance policies for those with DUIs it's pretty safe to say most companies would be out of business. Also as a child I was a victim of an intentional crime from a stranger. So yes I think weather you've had a glass of wine at a wedding or you've legitimately drank too much Orange County makes the most money from seeking out giving DUIs. I have friends that got in bad situations and have more than one DUI, I have colleagues with an insurance license with more than one DUI. They were lucky, no one died. What I am saying is I think the focus of the authorities in the OC is misdirected. I believe people that have premeditated murder, violence, rape, drug and child sex trafficking should not receive the same punishment that was purely based on lack of life. I can say that because I have heard a million stories of how people you would last think received their DUI. They just got lucky and didn't kill anyone. That's my opinion. Is there anything else you would like to know about me?

Tommy Walas
Tommy Walas

there's nothing GOOD about any of this.

Kelly Jennings Cromwell
Kelly Jennings Cromwell

I have never been one to comment on these posts but this hits to close to home. Nicole, have you ever lost someone to a drunk driver? I have, I lost my fiance to a drunk driver in 2011, a human life was taken, a dad, a grandfather, a son, a brother at the expense of a dumbass who chose to drink and drive. I cannot believe that you are actually saying that that DUIs are less than criminal. You not only take your life in your hands but everyone else who is on the road with you and if you are that intoxicated and stupid enough to get behind the wheel and take that chance and you kill someone by God you best get time and lots of it.

serbialaw1
serbialaw1

White trash driving drunk killing people round them all up and deport them back to europe

Nicole Krramer
Nicole Krramer

Yeah get a DUI in Orange County and your life is over because that's all they fixate on. Why don't they start focusing on pre meditated criminals, rape, child molesters, child trafficing in Santa Ana., wife beaters.... I swear all that county worries about is handing out duis

grave.hunter
grave.hunter

Was this case more tragic because Ashton was 'popular'?  That alway seems to be the case.

Matthew Acosta
Matthew Acosta

Amusing, his girlfriend was OC's Superior Court judge...no wonder Rodriguez omitted.

Xander Lombardo
Xander Lombardo

Santa Ana western hospital is a death dungeon hospital, she might of been saved else where

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