Woman involved in fatal DUI crash that killed daughter, husband stands trial

Stacy Lonnberg leaves the courtroom Thursday at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. Her case was postponed for plea until April 26. Lonnberg is charged with murder after allegedly driving drunk and causing a Jan. 14 car accident that killed her husband and d

The Gilroy woman who killed her husband and daughter in a drunken car crash last year cried her way through her murder trial Wednesday morning.
Stacy Lonnberg, 52, was driving drunk on the afternoon of January 2012 when she flipped her Toyota Tacoma on Highway 85 in Los Gatos, expelling her 26-year-old daughter, Tiffiny Gillette, 50 feet from the car. Gillette was pronounced dead on the scene. Lonnberg’s husband, 57-year-old Fred Lonnberg, was rushed to the hospital but died a few hours later.
Now, Lonnberg’s future is in the hands of 12 jurors.
In a particularly solemn moment in the courthouse in San Jose, the jurors – a mix of men, women, races and ages – passed around a black-and-white photo of Gillette’s torn up body moments after the crash. Lonnberg, dressed in a purple button-down, grabbed a tissue and dabbed her eyes without looking up. Her hair has gone from blonde to entirely gray in the year-and-a-half since she was first arrested and booked for murder.
She wasn’t the only one crying in the courtroom. Fred Lonnberg’s ex-wife, daughter and son-in-law – who want to see Lonnberg behind bars – convulsed and sobbed as Matt Braker, deputy district attorney, detailed the horrific details of the scene. Family members did not want to comment for this story.
California Highway Patrol Officer Ken Hubble, who was at the incident, testified that Lonnberg showed little remorse after the crash.
“At no point did she inquire about the well being of anyone,” Hubble said.
When Hubble informed her that her daughter was dead, Lonnberg allegedly snapped back, “Well that’s her fault,” for not wearing a seatbelt.
Hubble said she did, however, show concern over who would take care of her cats and horses while she was in jail.
The stoic jury members penned a few notes when Braker brought out the plastic water bottle that CHP officers found in Lonnberg’s center console the day of the accident. The bottle was half full with clear alcohol, the CHP officer testified.
William Seals, Lonnberg’s former employer and owner of Tri-County Veterinary Hospital in Gilroy, also testified. Lonnberg worked for Seals as a vet tech from 2006 to 2008. In her last six months of employment, Seals began to suspect Lonnberg was drinking at work. Then one day, she showed up to work at 7:30 a.m. so drunk she could not walk or talk, he said.
She had driven herself to work that morning.
Lonnberg was driving north around 3:45 p.m. Jan. 14, 2012 on Highway 85 near Winchester Boulevard when the CHP said she attempted a lane change while speeding. Her pickup sideswiped another vehicle, causing the Lonnbergs’ truck to roll several times. Her 18-month-old grandson was also in the car but was uninjured.
Lonnberg, who has two prior DUI charges, had a blood alcohol content of .16 – twice the legal limit, according to CHP reports.
Lonnberg’s public defender, Javier Rios, portrays Lonnberg as a hurting woman who was stunned after the crash, not unremorseful.
“Stacy Lonnberg feels horrible about the death of her daughter and her husband. She will have to live with this for the rest of her life and will never forgive herself. But the shame and horror she feels is not the same as being guilty of the charges the prosecution has elected to charge her with. I will fight hard to defend this woman,” Rios said in a written statement.
Originally charged with manslaughter, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office upped Lonnberg’s charges to two counts of murder and one count of child endangerment 10 days after the car crash. If convicted, Lonnberg could face a minimum of 15 years in prison.