Destrehan DWI offender pleads guilty in two Metairie drunken driving wrecks

Posted on Feb 5, 2010 in DUI/DWI, Local Issues


By Michelle Hunter, The Times-Picayune
February 04, 2010, 6:01PM

Craig Codina, a multiple DWI offender from Destrehan, pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular homicide and third-offense DWI in connection with two separate Metairie car crashes.

craig.codina.jpgCraig Codina of DestrehanCodina, 26, also pleaded guilty to first-degree negligent injuring before Judge Conn Regan in Gretna’s 24th Judicial District Court, according to Trooper Melissa Matey, spokeswoman for the State Police.

The homicide and negligent injuring charges stem from an Aug. 1 wreck on Airline Drive in Metairie that killed Sandra Stevens, 30, of New Orleans, and severely injured Santos Garcia, 28.

Codina pleaded guilty to third-offense DWI as well as careless operation of a motor vehicle in connection with an October 2008 accident on Causeway Boulevard in which he crashed into the back of a vehicle driven by a teenager. She was not injured.

Despite the fact that the August fatal wreck was Codina’s fourth arrested for driving while intoxicated, he was booked only with second-offense DWI for both that crash and the Causeway Boulevard wreck.

That’s because the Jefferson Parish district attorney’s office was erroneously informed that Codina’s first conviction in St. Charles Parish in 2001 was for underage DWI, which can’t be used to enhance penalties for subsequent offenses.

The mistake came to light after a Times-Picayune article in August about Codina’s record. Codina actually pleaded guilty to first-offense DWI in 2001. Prosecutors upgraded the charge in the October 2008 crash to felony third-offense DWI, after learning about his past record.

Regan sentenced Codina on Monday to 30 days in parish prison for the careless operation charge. Neither Codina, nor his attorney, David Motter, could be reached for comment Thursday.

Sentencing for the remaining charges in both the August fatal wreck and the 2008 case is scheduled for April 6.

Michelle Hunter can be reached at mhunter@timespicayune.com or 504.883.7054.

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