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Drink Counsellor On Drink-Drive Murder Charge
A substance abuse counsellor has been charged with murder and drink-driving after witnesses said she struck a pedestrian and drove for more than two miles with the dying man embedded in the windscreen.
Sherri Wilkins, 51, also faces charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident, said prosecutors.
The victim, 31-year-old Phillip Moreno, was struck late on Saturday while crossing a street in Torrance, California. Witnesses surrounded the car about two miles later and detained Wilkins. Mr Moreno died in hospital.
Wilkins later told police she panicked after the accident and kept driving.
She is being held on $2.25m (£1.4m) bail and if convicted could face life in prison.
Wilkins is a former addict who seemingly had turned her life around and become a respected drug and alcohol counsellor.
Her boss David Lisonbee, CEO of Twin Tower Treatment, said that despite her background, including a previous hit-and-run arrest, Wilkins always earned high marks with her patients and did not show any signs of a relapse at work.
Describing the grandmother as "an incredibly sweet person," he said it was not unusual for drug and alcohol counsellors to have addiction in their own past, as well as trouble with the law.
Those circumstances help them connect with patients, he said.