Press Release: People v. Berset, Anna, 3/24/09
March 24, 2009
Bradford R. Fenocchio
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: March 24, 2009
Public information Officer
Acting Assistant District Attorney
A Folsom woman was sentenced to three years in state prison today by a Placer County judge for the 2007 hit-and-run death of 15-year-old Courtney Parker of Granite Bay.
Anna Elvira Berset, 52, received the prison term from Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis after being convicted by a jury on Jan. 27 of hit-and-run causing death, which is a felony, and of a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.
Courtney Parker was struck by a motorist on the night of June 13, 2007, as she walked on the side of Auburn Folsom Road in Granite Bay. She died in a hospital two days later.
The morning after the accident, Berset contacted the California Highway Patrol to report that she may have struck a deer or a thrown rock the previous night. The CHP conducted a lengthy investigation and arrested Berset three months later.
In handing down his sentence, Gaddis said that regardless of what Berset had struck on the roadway, “I believe a reasonable person would have stopped.” He said Berset’s decision to keep driving “shows a degree of callousness.”
Prosecutor Jeff Wilson said Berset appeared to have made three cell phone calls while driving home after the accident. One of the calls was to her adult son, who himself was convicted and served a prison term for a hit-and-run drunken driving accident that killed a 15-year-old boy and severely injured his sister in 1998. That accident also occurred on Auburn Folsom Road.
Gaddis noted the case of Berset’s son just before pronouncing sentence.
“The fact that what happened to her son is highly unusual and highly disturbing,” he said. “If anyone knew to stop, it certainly should have been her.”
In a letter to the Placer County Probation Department, Nancy Parker, Courtney’s mother, said her daughter’s death has “destroyed” her family.
She wrote that she and her husband suffer anxiety attacks since the death and that her 19-year-old son continues to fight bouts of depression.
Mrs. Parker said the CHP’s 68-page report reveals a “web of lies” told by Berset about what occurred in the accident. She asked that Berset be given a maximum four-year prison sentence.
“The thought of her having to serve her time in a state prison for the full four years has been the only thing keeping my family going,” she wrote.
Wilson called the accident “the worst hit-and-run case I’ve seen in my 12 years in this office. A young girl was struck and left to die on the side of a darkened road.”
Courtney’s best friend, Kelsey Harter, who was walking with her, had to search the area to find Courtney nearly 70 feet from where she was hit, Wilson said.
During the trial, Berset’s attorney, Craig Leri, tried to establish that his client did not know what she had struck.
In court today, Berset apologized to the Parker family for causing Courtney’s death and she again maintained that she did not know she had struck Courtney.
“If only I could trade places with your daughter, I would,” she said. “I’d do it in a second.”