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Guilty plea from motorist who struck and killed nanny pushing baby in stroller

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A driver who struck and killed a nanny pushing a baby in a stroller in Torrey Highlands pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter and infractions of running a red light and failure to yield at a crosswalk.

Christine Padilla, 35, faces up to a year in jail when she is sentenced June 7, said Mark Skeels, chief deputy of the Trial Unit for the San Diego City Attorney's Office.

Even though defendants on misdemeanor cases routinely are allowed to sit out court hearings if represented by an attorney, Judge Charles Gill ordered that Padilla be present for sentencing.

Gill also ordered a probation report, which is not standard in misdemeanor cases.

"It's a useful tool for sentencing purposes," Skeels said, "because prior to sentencing, and prior to the arguments of the prosecution or the defense, the court will have already received a 10- to 15-page report from the Probation Department that addresses many of the relevant issues that you would typically handle at a sentencing."

The Feb. 1 accident at Camino del Sur and Via Verrazzano happened about 11:45 a.m., according to San Diego police. The impact threw Monserrat Mendez 30 feet and dragged the stroller with a 13-month-old boy strapped inside across the intersection, leaving it wedged under Padilla's Toyota 4Runner.

Medics took the 41-year-old nanny to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, where she was pronounced dead. The toddler was taken to Rady Children's Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, including scrapes and bruises, SDPD public-affairs Lt. Andra Brown said.

An investigation revealed that Padilla was not speeding or talking on her cell phone when the accident occurred, although she had just had a baby the day before, according to police.

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