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Modesto Woman Convicted Of Murder After HWY 120 DUI Crash Paroled

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Sonora, CA – A Modesto woman convicted of murder after a DUI head-on crash in the Keystone area of Tuolumne County has been paroled.

The Board of Parole, in a hearing last month, paroled 34-year-old Brenda Barrera. She was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Maxsimiano Aldana, who died in the collision on Highway 120/108 near the J-59 junction on April 21, 2015, as reported here. Three passengers in Aldana’s vehicle also suffered significant injuries. On the day of the crash, Barrera left the Black Oak Casino in Tuolumne early in the morning, with casino surveillance video showing her stumbling and panhandling in the building. Once on the highway, other drivers witnessed Barrera tailgating, driving onto the shoulder, and into oncoming traffic before the deadly crash.

This was the second time Barrera had been convicted of driving under the influence, allowing her to be charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors used the results of her toxicology report, which showed she had Xanax and marijuana in her system. She was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison plus 15 years to life in 2016.

Then, in 2019, an appeals court overturned Barrera’s conviction, as detailed here. At her second trial, a jury took six hours to reconvict Barrera, handing down the same sentence. She was again convicted and sentenced to 13 years plus 15 years to life. Barrera appealed again, and in February of last year, the California Court of Appeals, Fifth District, affirmed that judgment.

Barrera was subsequently paroled during a hearing on January 4, 2024, where prosecutors argued insufficient time had passed and questioned whether Barrera would turn to drugs and alcohol under the stress of re-entering society. The parole board, however, in its ruling cited recent changes in sentencing guidelines, the lack of prior criminal history, good behavior in prison, and her remorse for granting her release.

The District Attorney’s office noted, “This recommendation will be reviewed and a decision will be made in the coming months.

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