Elk Grove man sentenced for DUI crash that killed West Sacramento parents heading home

A Yolo County judge sentenced an Elk Grove man to 22 years to life in prison for driving drunk in a West Sacramento head-on crash that killed a married couple as they were driving home with their two children.

Gabriel Poletti, 29, was convicted Tuesday of two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Rasul Afzili and his wife, Anila. His prison sentence includes the possibility of parole.

On May 10, Poletti pleaded guilty to the murder charges, along with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, according to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.

Poletti entered his guilty plea following a promise from Yolo Superior Court Judge Peter Williams he would sentence the defendant to seven years in prison, plus an additional 15 years-to-life sentence. The District Attorney’s Office supported the victims’ family in objecting to this deal.

District Attorney Jeff Reisig said Poletti was “acutely aware” of the risks to human life of drinking and driving having been convicted of driving under the influence before. He also was arrested on a DUI charge less than two weeks before the crash that killed these parents.

“His decisions and actions took the lives of Rasul and Anila Afzili,” Reisig said in a news release. “Nothing will bring them back, but there must be accountability and we must protect the public moving forward.”

Previous DUI conviction and arrest

Poletti was convicted of driving under the influence in April 2016 in Sacramento County. Drivers in California with a previous DUI conviction can be charged with murder in a subsequent suspected DUI-related crash that results in death.

Thirteen days before the crash that killed the Afzilis, Poletti was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Sacramento County, prosecutors said.

The fatal crash occurred about 11:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 2021, on Jefferson Boulevard, between Gateway and Locks drives. Prosecutors said a test after the crash revealed that Poletti’s blood-alcohol content was 0.243%, more than three times California’s legal limit.

The Afzilis and their two children, 3-year-old Jannah and 7-month-old Azaan, were on their way home from his mother’s home. The couple had been there to celebrate Rasul’s birthday, his family has said.

Poletti was driving south on Jefferson when his vehicle crossed over the center dividing line and crashed head-on with the vehicle carrying the Afzilis and their children, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The Afzilis’ vehicle was stopped at a red light in the opposite turn lane when it was struck by Poletti’s vehicle.

The West Sacramento parents were pronounced dead at the scene. Prosecutors said Jannah suffered a broken arm and leg and her baby brother “miraculously” suffered only cuts and abrasions.

Rasul Afzili and his wife, Anila Afzili, died in a head-on vehicle crash about 11:30 p.m. Monday Feb. 15, 2021, on Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento, California. Their children, pictured above, 3-year-old Jannah and 7-month-old Azaan, were in the vehicle with their parents. The children were injured in the crash.

The couple’s family has said the Afzilis were “amazing parents” and loved their children very much. Rasul owned a popular food truck called Gyro King. Their family raised money online with plans to use the money for the children’s college education and the rest of their future.

The West Sacramento Police Department has said Poletti suffered serious injuries in the crash and was hospitalized before he was released. Police obtained an arrest warrant for Poletti and arrested him several days after the fatal crash at a relative’s home in Sacramento.