Michael Penachio was driving his Mercedes Benz over 100 miles per hour down the highway when he crashed into and killed a single mother and journalist, Danielle Baker in 2007.
Now Penachio will do his time: 5 years in prison. The DUI sentence comes after several years of plea negotiations that frustrated Baker’s family. Ultimately, however, Penachio pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in exchange for the five-year prison sentence. He could have been sentenced to up to 14 years in prison.
Penachio spoke to the court and to Baker’s family. “Mr. and Mrs. Baker, I’m so sorry for all the pain and sorrow I have brought to your lives. I’m sorry that it has taken this long for you to hear me say it.”
The agreement took so long because a new judge was selected in the case, and then the case was subject to numerous delays.
Penachio sought to get a sentence that didn’t include jail time, so that he could keep his job as a financial broker and maintain the health insurance that helped fund care for his son, who has cerebral palsy.
The father of the victim, Derrick Baker, said that he was glad that this chapter of the ordeal was over, and he accepted Penachio’s apology.
“It meant a lot to me, it really did,” he said. “As I said before, it would be a worse feeling to know that someone had no remorse for their actions, and it did do me a lot of good to hear it. I believe he was sincere. I wish him no harm, and I hope that he is able to move on with his life as well.”
Penachio set aside $54,000 as a part of settled civil suit, as part of a college fund for Danielle Baker’s daughter. She is four years old.
“This will never be over for my daughter,” Baker said. “She will never be back with me, but this part of it is over. I’m glad it’s over. I feel for his family as well, and I hope everybody is just able to heal from this and everyone just gets a chance to move on.”