Shanna Stromberg was turning left onto her street last year when another driver hit and killed her, leaving her 1-year-old and 14-year-old daughters without their mother.
“The corner she was hit on was the corner where she lived,” the older girl, T’anna Thomas, told the court Thursday at the sentencing of 27-year-old Elijah Martin-Moore. “All she had to do was finish her turn.”
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff sentenced Martin-Moore to seven years in prison after he pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault in connection with the wreck.
Defense lawyer Bryan Hershman and Deputy Prosecutor Neil Horibe asked for closer to four years. Hershman asked the judge to take Martin-Moore’s clean driving record into consideration.
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But Chushcoff cited the opposite: Four speeding tickets since 2011, in addition to driving with a suspended license, no identification or no insurance on multiple occasions in the last two years.
“It looks like you might’ve gotten your driver’s license back not long before all this happened,” Chushcoff said, to which Martin-Moore nodded in agreement.
On Aug. 25, Martin-Moore was traveling at 80 miles per hour in a 30-mph residential zone when he hit the car of 33-year-old Stromberg as she turned left in front of him, according to charging papers.
Stromberg died at the scene; Martin-Moore and a passenger in the front seat suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
As part of plea negotiations, prosecutors agreed to drop an unlawful gun possession charge because of the loaded firearm police said Martin-Moore had in his car.
Investigators said both drivers had THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in their systems at the time of the wreck. No one mentioned those toxicology test results at sentencing.
Stromberg’s family spoke about how losing her had affected them.
Chushcoff said he received four statements from the family before the sentencing. Thomas, Stromberg’s mother and Stromberg’s aunt read statements during the hearing. Each asked that Martin-Moore serve the maximum sentence allowed by the law.
“My mom will not be there to see me graduate middle school the 19th of this month,” Thomas said. “She will not be there to see me walk across high school graduating, she will not be there to see me get accepted into my dream college.
“... I have a little sister. She’s almost 2. She will have no memories of my mom.”
Stromberg’s mother, Nancy Laurendeau, told The News Tribune that if Martin-Moore had been driving the speed limit like her daughter, no one would have died and the wreck might not have happened.
“It was his speed that killed my daughter,” she said outside court.
Laurendeau said she realizes no amount of prison time will bring her daughter back, but said she was glad the judge sentenced Martin-Moore to more time than the prosecution and defense recommended.
Before he was sentenced, Martin-Moore apologized to both families and anyone else affected by his actions.
“I can’t apologize enough,” he said.
Despite his apology, emotions ran high between the families after court. As they left the courtroom, a fight broke out in between the families in the hallway.
One person yelled, “Why are you looking at me like that?” and there was a loud crash.
Sheriff’s deputies rushed to the area and broke up the parties, then had them leave the building using different exits. A deputy said they were maintaining the safety of the building but would not provide any more information.
Jared Brown: 253-597-8670