A 22-year-old man charged with buying and supplying alcohol to minors at a party in connection with the death of Laurel Williams pleaded no contest at the Pleasanton courthouse Thursday morning.
As part of a plea deal reached between the man, Paul Stonebarger of Brentwood, and the Williams family, Stonebarger will serve three months in county jail.
Williams, 19, was killed Oct. 20, 2007 in a drunken driving crash on Foothill Road. Her friend, Katie McKewon, now 20, who was behind the wheel, is serving a four-year sentence at Chowchilla State Prison for gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing great bodily injury.
Stonebarger had faced up to one year in jail for purchasing large quantities of alcohol at a Dublin liquor store for a house party attended by Williams and McKewon that was held in Pleasanton the night before the crash.
Friends and family members of Williams gave emotional testimony before Stonebarger's sentencing, saying their lives are forever changed.
"Nothing will bring back by best friend," said Stephanie Rodriguez. "I miss her more and more every day."
Rodriquez said she couldn't believe that Stonebarger "dropped Laurel and Katie off at their car when they were in no shape to drive."
Laurel Williams' cousin Kim Pace said she questions whether Stonebarger has any remorse for the role he played in Williams' death. She said he continues to live a party lifestyle.
"Actions speak louder than words," she said. "You were at a bar the same day you went to the first court hearing."
Judge Christine Moruza admonished Stonebarger, saying he bragged on his Facebook page about drinking and partying for his birthday in Las Vegas recently.
"This is so ghastly inappropriate," Moruza said. "I'm just so stunned you would do that. It shows a complete lack of remorse. Someday, you'll be a man. You're not one right now."
The feelings of anger were visible in father Ken Williams, when he directed his testimony to Stonebarger, looking him in the eyes the entire time. Saying it's a struggle for him to get out of bed every day, Williams said Stonebarger may not have been the drunk driver, but he should have used better judgment in taking his daughter and McKewon to their car.
"It's kind of like you put the bullets in the gun," he said.
"You don't get it, man," he continued. "You're just trying to get by. Hopefully, you do get it someday."
Ken Williams said he hopes Stonebarger would take this tragedy and make something positive out of it by speaking to students in high schools about his experiences. Stonebarger's attorney told the judge his client, who didn't speak at the hearing, would like to do that.
The most emotional testimony was made by Kathy Pace Williams, Laurel's mother, who brought framed photographs of her daughter.
She recalled favorite memories she and her only child shared.
"We would dance in front of the fireplace," she said through tears. "We'd cuddle on the couch."
Pace Williams said she'll never get the chance to see her daughter get married or have children.
When her daughter and Stonebarger first started dating, Pace Williams said "I told you you were carrying my precious cargo and don't give her any alcohol. You said she was your precious cargo, too."
She added that she plans to lobby in the State Assembly for tougher sentences for supplying to minors.
As part of Stonebarger's sentencing, he will be placed on probation. If the terms of probation are violated, he could spend another 90 days in jail. Any car he operates is required to have an ignition interlock device for one year and he is required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week for eight months. He will also pay a $1,000 fine and is not allowed to have Facebook or MySpace pages for three years. Restitution for the Williams family and a woman who was also injured in the crash will be determined at a later date.
The Williams family will soon offer a $2,000 scholarship for a Las Positas College student trasferring to a four-year school through the newly-formed Laurel Alice Williams Foundation. There will also be a dinner and silent auction for the foundation and to honor Laurel Williams' 21st birthday, which would have been June 10, on June 5 at Crow Canyon Country Club in San Ramon. A website for the foundation, www.laurelalicefoundation.org will be up shortly. In the meantime, questions can be sent to email@example.com.