Driver with man on windshield says she panicked

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A woman who drove 2 miles through a Los Angeles suburb with a dying man on her windshield says she can't remember hitting him.

Sherry Lynn Wilkins testified Wednesday that he seemed to fly onto her car in the 2012 incident in Torrance, but the events were a surreal blur.

Prosecutors say 31-year-old Phillip Moreno was struck so hard that he flipped onto Wilkins' car and punched a hole in the windshield.

"It was a flash, "Wilkins said. "I pretty much felt him landing on my window. To me, it felt like he came from the sky."

Asked by her attorney how she felt in that moment, she said, "Very confused, like it wasn't real. It took me a while to figure out there was a body on the windshield."

"I didn't feel like I had hit him with my car," she said. "I felt like he fell into my windshield from up high."

Wilkins said she panicked and kept driving until other motorists told her to pull over.

"I was very scared," she said. "I kind of froze."

Wilkins, a former addict who became a drug and alcohol counselor, wept and said she'd been drinking that night but wasn't drunk. She said she had been "self-medicating" while waiting for knee-replacement surgery and had consumed three airplane-size bottles of vodka and a can of Budweiser beer and Clamato before starting to drive.

Prosecutors say her blood-alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.

Under questioning by her lawyer, Nan Whitfield, the 52-year-old defendant told jurors her story of addiction, which began when she was in a car accident at the age of 15 and suffered a broken back and shattered bones in her ankles and legs.

Wilkins said she became addicted to pain killers and then heroin.

"When did you begin to use heroin?" asked Whitfield.

"When it became cheaper than going to the doctor," she said.

Wilkins acknowledged having served time for residential burglaries over the years, said she kicked the heroin habit with the help of methadone and more recently had been using medical marijuana. She told of obtaining a degree in addiction counseling and going to work at a treatment center.

"Were you happy in November of 2012?" asked Whitfield.

"For the first time I was," she whispered and began to cry.

Superior Court Judge Henry Hall cut off further exploration of her personal history. Wilkins is being brought to the courtroom in a wheel chair.

She was leaving the treatment center on the night of Nov. 24, 2012, when the crash occurred.

Wilkins has pleaded not guilty to murder, DUI and hit-and-run.

On cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney John Harlan asked if Wilkins thought that night she should call her husband to pick her up since she had been drinking.

"No," she said. "I wasn't drunk."

Asked what she was thinking, Wilkins said, "I was thinking I'd better hurry up and get home before the effects hit me."

Asked about her lack of response afterward, she said, "I was freaking out. It was not like I knew what was happening ... I still can't believe what happened."

Attorneys were scheduled to present final arguments Thursday.

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