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Corn seeks reduced sentence for DUI crash

By KELLY NIX

Published: June 3, 2011

A PACIFIC GROVE man sentenced in March to seven years in prison for the drunken driving crash that paralyzed a classmate is expected to seek a reduced sentence Friday.

On March 10, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Russell Scott sentenced Aaron Corn to seven years and four months for the Feb. 21, 2010, accident that left Corn’s friend, Chelsie Hill, paralyzed and several other friends injured, and for stealing the Toyota 4Runner he crashed.

Though Corn asked for probation, Scott sentenced Corn to most of the maximum nine-year term he could have received.

Believing the sentence to be too harsh, however, Frank Dice, Corn’s attorney, was scheduled to present a motion asking Scott to reconsider his sentence.

District Attorney Todd Hornik, who prosecuted Corn, said it’s not common for a defense attorney to make such a request.

In January, Corn entered a no-contest plea to charges of causing multiple injuries in the alcohol-fueled crash. Even Hill, who is now in a wheelchair, told Scott during Corn’s sentencing in March her friend shouldn’t go to prison.

“Prison would only change him for the worse,” Hill said. “It’s already been one year, and prison would only do bad. He needs to make good.”

Dice had urged Scott to take into consideration Corn was barely 18 when the accident occurred.

“I think we need to recognize this is a very immature human being,” Dice said at the March sentencing. “This is a person that is not fully formed.”

Corn told Scott he felt remorse for the crash and said since being in jail he feels like he has “matured into a man.”

But Scott said he took the crash and other examples of Corn’s previous behavior, which included a substance-abuse problem, into account when he handed Corn the sentence.

Corn was “described as someone who is always in trouble, someone who always caused troubled,” Scott said in March. “And that is from his friends.”

He also ordered Corn to pay fines and restitution to his victims. Corn has been held in Monterey County Jail since the crash and has credit for more than a year of time already served. He is slated to serve at least five more years.

The other teenage passengers in the 4Runner Corn was driving were Ahmad Mahmoud and Matthew Wheeler, both of whom were injured. Another passenger, Eric Miller, was also in the vehicle.

According to statements by witnesses, several teens met at the home of student CJ Veloz on Syida Drive in Pacific Grove after a basketball game the night of the crash. Chelsie Hill told an officer that Corn invited her to the party via text message.

At about 3:30 a.m., with Corn at the wheel of the 4Runner, Corn and six other students crammed into the Toyota, which only had five seats. Corn dropped off two teens not long before losing control of the vehicle and colliding with a tree off Skyline Drive in Monterey.