Moments after her sister was thrown from a tumbling vehicle in a crash she streamed on Instagram, Obdulia Sanchez predicted she would never be a free woman.
“I f—— killed my sister, okay? I know I’m going to jail for life, all right?” said an intoxicated Sanchez, 18, in a video as she stands over the blood-soaked body of her 14-year-old sister, Jacqueline.
The July 2017 incident on a Northern California highway shocked the world: How can a young woman, who just killed her sister while filming a video for her social media followers, record the aftermath as police close in?
A Merced County, Calif., court handed down a sentence Thursday far below Sanchez’s predictions: six years and four months in prison for crimes of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and child endangerment, the Merced Sun-Star reported, the last charge stemming from her sister’s death and injuries to another teen girl in the back seat.
Sanchez, of Stockton, Calif., had pleaded no contest to the charges last month, the paper reported.
California Highway Patrol investigators concluded Sanchez lost control of her 2003 Buick when it skidded off the road and the car went into a violent turn after she overcorrected, sending the vehicle crashing into a barbed-wire fence and coming to a stop upside down in a field outside Los Banos. The younger sister and the other teenager were in the back and were not wearing seat belts.
Merced County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Min revealed during proceedings Sanchez tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, in addition to alcohol, the Sun-Star reported.
“I don’t f‑‑‑‑‑‑ care, though,” Sanchez said in the video as she increasingly grows panicked, slapping her sister in the face. “I’m-a hold it down. I love you, rest in peace, sweetie. If you don’t survive, baby, I am so f‑‑‑‑‑‑ sorry. I did not mean to kill you, sweetie. Sweetie, I am f‑‑‑‑‑‑ sorry. Sweetie, please, wake up!”
Sanchez has sought to explain both her regret and justify her recording of the video after the crash.
“I made that video because I knew I had more than 5,000 followers. It was the only way my sister would get a decent burial,” she said in an August letter to local media. “I would never expose my sister like that. I anticipated the public donating money because my family isn’t rich.”
Merced County Deputy Public Defender Ramnik Samrao argued for probation and no jail time for Sanchez, saying a prison sentence would blunt her potential after a hard childhood racked with alleged abuse. Min pushed for the maximum penalty of 12 years for what he said was “callousness” exhibited by Sanchez.
Sanchez was sentenced with time served, and could be released as early as Sept. 21, 2020, if she shows good behavior, the Sun-Star reported.
Her video is a prominent example of how people have used live-streaming tools in ways that technology companies such as Facebook, which owns Instagram, have struggled to contain.
As The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg reported in 2017, “live video of violent incidents, including suicides, beheadings and torture, have gone viral, with some reaching millions of people.”
In May, Facebook said it would hire thousands of people to review content to help reduce violent and sensitive videos on its site, the Wall Street Journal reported.