SANTA ANA – A drunken driver with an open bottle of vodka in his car was sentenced Friday to two years and eight months in jail for killing a woman and injuring her son.
Edward Stanley Butler, 72, of San Bernardino was found guilty by a jury on April 6 of one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter by lawful act that might cause death without gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more causing bodily injury.
Prosecutors requested that the defendant receive a sentence of four years and eight months in state prison. Under the new state sentencing laws (AB 109), the court split the defendant’s sentence. Butler was ordered to serve two years and two months in a local jail and the remaining six months on supervised probation.
In handing down the sentence, Orange County Superior Court Judge David Hoffer said that a dangerous maneuver on the part of the victim was taken into consideration.
At approximately 5 p.m. on Sept. 8, 2010, victim Tamiko Kaminaga, 60, was driving with her 17-year-old son, Jorge Maresch, out of a parking lot in Orange. Butler failed to stop or slow as Kaminaga made a legal left turn, and crashed into the victim’s vehicle.
When Orange police officers arrived, Butler was found sitting near his vehicle. He was in possession of an open bottle of vodka in his vehicle and displayed objective signs of intoxication, including slurred speech and red and watery eyes. Butler had a blood alcohol level of .22 percent.
Kaminaga was transported to Western Medical Center and died a short time later due to blunt force trauma. Maresch suffered a broken nose and facial lacerations.
During the sentencing, the prosecution read a victim impact statement on behalf of the victim’s daughter, Emi Kaminaga, who said, in part:
“My mom passed away just a couple of hours before my birthday. She would have called me and we would have talked that day. I wish that day would have come. Instead, the phone call I received that afternoon was my 17-year-old brother telling me Mom didn’t make it. No teenager should ever have to say those words to his older sister …
“Today, my sister, my brother, and I carry on with our lives because our mom raised all of us to be strong. But it’s so hard some days when even watching someone casually drink a glass of beer reminds me of her death. When someone tells a ‘drunk’ story they thought was humorous, or when I make a left turn on to a street, just like my mom did, also reminds me of her death. Then there are other days that are difficult because my mom was not here to see my brother graduate high school or start college. She wasn’t here to see me get married or see my sister perform in concerts …
“Some nights I wish so hard to see my mom once more that I continue to see her in my dreams. Unfortunately, those dreams always turn into nightmares.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Alison Gyves prosecuted this case.
Tamiko Kaminaga was born on June 11, 1950 in Japan from a family of government officials and educators. She was the middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother.
She was an expert in osozai (a type of Japanese cuisine), ikebana, and tea ceremony. She had great knowledge of classical literature and art, and loved music. Her family said she also had a wonderful sense of humor and a very green thumb, such that everything she touched turned into a jungle.
She is also survived by a daughter, Lisa. Her two daughters were born in Tokyo and spent part of their childhood in Sydney, Australia, but later moved to the United States. In 1993, Jorge was born in Las Vegas. Kaminaga traveled around the world and wanted her children to be bilingual and grow up experiencing many cultures.
A private memorial was held on Oct. 27, 2010, the 49th day after her passing, a Japanese tradition to wish their mother a safe journey to heaven.