To the sounds of sobs in the courtroom, a Stamford woman who ran over and killed two men while intoxicated on Interstate 95 in Darien in October 2010 was sentenced to six months in jail for drunken driving.
As Judge Gary White was pronouncing sentence on Candice Blanks, 43, of Bedford St., Vera Chagas the mother of one of the men killed, pushed her hands into her face while crying and shrieked "You killed my son and you got only six months."
According to court documents, Blanks had been drinking with friends in South Norwalk until early in the morning on Oct. 16, 2010. As she was driving home to Stamford, Felipe Chagas, 19, a college student from Bethel, and Lucas Silva, 21, a Stamford resident and Greenwich High School graduate got a flat and were changing the tire on I-95 southbound between exits 11 and 10 in Darien.
At 2:26 a.m., Blanks hit the two with her black Lincoln Navigator, dragging Silva about 170 feet down the highway and slamming Chagas under the car he was working on.
Blanks pulled over on the highway about half a mile away. Police said her eyes were bloodshot and she smelled of alcohol, was swaying on her feet, failed balance tests, experienced mood swings and urinated on herself. Blanks refused to take a Breathalyzer test and the state police officers processing her in Bridgeport said she asked to call home to tell her dog she would not be home that night.
Blanks was charged with two counts of evading responsibility and vehicular manslaughter and a single count of drunken driving. But the state never filed the vehicular manslaughter charges, citing a lack of evidence to support them. Investigators could not pinpoint exactly where Blanks struck Chagas and Silva, leaving open the question about whether they were on the shoulder or standing in the road when they were struck. Blanks' Navigator never struck any part of Chagas and Silva's car investigators said.
The state's case against Blanks was further complicated because state police, thinking that the case had already been settled, destroyed the car and most of the state's evidence in 2013.
The prosecutor on the case, supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Steven Weiss, said during Blanks' sentencing that in his 35 years in the prosecutors' office, this was probably the most tragic set of circumstances he had ever seen in a case like this.
"Tragic in terms of the consequences and tragic in the way the case was handled by the state police," he said.
On balance, he said a six-month sentence was the best way to dispose of the case. In April, in exchange for pleading guilty to drunken driving, the state dropped the two felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident.
Before judicial marshals walked over to Blanks to put handcuffs on her, she said she was sorry. In a voice cracked with emotion and sobs she turned to the Chagas and Silva families, who filled three or four pews on the right side of the courtroom, and said she was "heartbroken for their loss."
"I just want to say I'm very, very sorry," she said before White warned her to speak to him, not the families.
White seemed to be unmoved by Blanks' apology. After Blanks' attorney, Darnell Crosland, said the only reason Blanks was in court was because she had been drinking that night, White disagreed.
"I think your client deserves every day of this sentence that I am about to impose," White said.