Couple pleads no contest in USC hit-and-run

The couple charged with killing a USC student in a hit-and-run last spring pleaded no contest Thursday to charges of vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident.

Claudia Cabrera, 31, admitted she was the driver of a car that fatally struck 18-year-old Adrianna Bachan and injured fellow student Marcus Garfinkle at the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover Street on March 29, 2009.

Josue Luna, Cabrera’s husband and the passenger of the car that struck Bachan and Garfinkle, admitted to pulling Garfinkle off the hood of the car before the couple drove away.

The trial for Cabrera and Luna was set to start today, but before proceedings began both pleaded no contest to one felony count of leaving the scene of an accident. Cabrera also pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

A no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea in the eyes of a court; there will be no trial and no sentence negotiation, which means they both could face the maximum sentences. Cabrera’s maximum sentence is eight years in state prison and Luna could face up to seven years, according to Jane Robison at the District Attorney’s Office.

Cabrera and Luna will return to court May 24 for sentencing.