SAN DIEGO — Daisuke Funai issued a statement expressing disappointment Friday following the sentencing of the hit-and-run driver responsible for the death of his younger brother, Sho Funai.
Sho Funai, was struck and killed by Nikolette Gallo, now 19, who admitted to drinking before the incident and told police she thought she had hit a sofa or an animal. Judge Dwayne Moring sentenced Gallo to one year in jail and five years of probation. She had faced punishment ranging from probation to four years in jail.
Daisuke Funai launched an online petition to urge the judge not to impose a lenient sentence. More than 13,000 signatures were collected. His statement reads as follows:
“This was about two young people who made a dramatically divergent sequence of decisions. Sho, who decided to walk that night rather than drive his car because he knew he would be drinking, was taken from us for doing the right thing.
“In contrast, the defendant’s behavior was irresponsible and self-centered — including the admitted, illegal use of alcohol and drugs — and fleeing the scene of a collision in which the evidence is overwhelming that she knew she hit a human being. Until she faced the prospect of going to state prison at her sentencing hearing, she never admitted that she knew she hit a person, acknowledged her own responsibility for what happened or made an apology.
“Even though the defendant was guilty of a felony hit-and-run with death, which calls for a sentence of two to four years in state prison, she was sentenced to only 365 days in county jail, less than half of which she will actually serve. This went against the three-year recommendation made by the probation office and the four-year recommendation by the district attorney.
“While we are somewhat relieved that the defendant did not just walk out of that courtroom, we still feel that the sentence does not match the seriousness of the crime. The defendant was already benefitting from lenient treatment since she was never charged with DUI or any other crimes committed in connection with Sho’s death.
“This sentence sends a message that our laws provide an incentive to leave the scene of a crime. The outcome tells other drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol that it is advantageous to flee the scene rather than report a crash resulting in death.
“But more than any outcome, I personally was disappointed by the lack of competence and will power of the district attorney to protect victims’ rights. That the deputy district attorney — who the district attorney had told me was the “best of the best” — did not conduct enough prior research, prepare adequately, or refute the false claims made by the defendant was more hurtful and disheartening than anything else.
“We were certainly aware that no sentence would bring Sho back, and that nothing could make us whole. We are heartbroken beyond repair and live day by day searching for a reason to move on. We are glad this is over so that we can mourn without the distractions of the justice system and media.
“Please know, however, that we will never be able to thank you properly for all that you did. You wrote letters and spread the petition to gather over 13,000 signatures. We are forever indebted to all of you. It’s been a dark and difficult time for us but we do find some small comfort in this outpouring of support and knowing that Sho touched so many lives.”