EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 27, 2013

'She did not intend for any of this to happen'

Lawrence woman heads to prison for killing 2 in drunken crash

SALEM, Mass. — Before she was sentenced yesterday to state prison for killing two people in a 2011 drunken driving crash, Shayna Fernandez kept looking over to her mother sitting behind her in Salem Superior Court.

Fernandez’s mother mouthed the words “I love you” to her 23-year-old daughter, as the courtroom waited to hear Fernandez’s fate.

The Lawrence native had just been found guilty of two counts each of manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide in connection with the June 2011 accident on Interstate 93 in Andover. She was also found guilty of motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence and driving recklessly.

She killed Francis O’Hanley Jr., 62, of Saugus, and Joseph Coppola, 57, of Malden. A third victim survived.

Judge David Lowy sentenced her to 3 1/2 to 12 years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation. During probation, Fernandez cannot operate a motor vehicle. She cannot do drugs and alcohol and will be subjected to random drug testing. She will also have to speak to schools advising them not to drink and drive and to learn from her story.

Fernandez quietly wiped away the tears under her glasses as the judge delivered his sentence.

“She is not being punished for drinking,” Lowy said. “She is being punished for drinking and driving.”

Fernandez drove drunk on June 11, 2011 and hit a car driven by O’Hanley with Coppola as a passenger.

O’Hanley and Coppola’s families suggested that Fernandez share her story with high school students and others in hopes of preventing tragedies like this in the future.

“I am giving you an opportunity to turn this tragedy into something good,” the judge said to a somber Fernandez. “Hopefully, someone can learn from your mistakes.”

In his sentencing argument, Essex County Assistant District Attorney Mike Patten recommended that Fernandez be sentenced to serve 8 to 12 years in state prison due to the fact that two lives were lost as a direct result of her actions.

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