Kamal Akwette Attoh, a 42-year-old from Irvine, with two prior DUI convictions, pleaded guilty last Friday to killing Jeongmi Choi, a 44-year-old woman, and injuring her husband and two teenage children, in a DUI crash that happened in May of 2018.
Attoh pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and he is expected to be sentenced on April 8 to at least 15 years to life in prison.
Attoh ended up facing a murder charge instead of a charge of vehicular manslaughter because he was previously convicted of driving drunk in November, 2000 in Orange County and again in March, 2002 in Ventura County, according to the OCDA Senior Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky.
On May 16, 2018, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Attoh swerved off the roadway and onto the sidewalk, striking a pedestrian family of four, driving down an embankment, and coming to a stop after hitting a tree, near the intersection of Ridgeline and Turtle Rock Drive in Irvine.
Witnesses called 911 and emergency medical responders rescued 49-year-old John Doe 1, Choi’s husband, from under Attoh’s vehicle. The victim was then airlifted to a local hospital to be treated for a ruptured spleen and other serious internal injuries.
Choi’s children, 18-year-old John Doe 2 and 15-year-old Jane Doe were rushed to another local hospital. Jane Doe required stitches and John Doe 2 sustained various injuries including a broken nose.
44-year-old Jeongmi Choi was pronounced deceased upon arrival at the hospital.
The Irvine Police Department investigated this case and arrested Attoh at the scene, where the defendant was accused of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.22%.
Attoh told the police officers who responded to the accident scene that he was driving home from his girlfriend’s house. Attoah had initially said he had four beers and was on Xanax, but he later admitted to police that he had been drinking vodka and martinis.
Attoh’s criminal defense attorney, Jeff Kent, said that his client plead guilty because he wanted to accept responsibility for his actions and didn’t want to put the family through a trial and he felt the resolution was just.