They called it the man-on-car murder. Not the most imaginative name, given what happened, but the way Sherri Lynn Wilkins killed 31-year-old Phillip Moreno in November of 2012 was horrifying — one of the most shocking cases of a hit-and-run driver striking a pedestrian in memory, even in car infested Los Angeles County, California.
Facing 45 years to life in prison for the man-on-car murder, Wilkins will have to wait another three months to learn her fate. Her sentencing hearing Wednesday was postponed until June. Wilkins has two previous convictions that make her a candidate for a mandatory life sentence under California's three-strikes law.
Drunk Driver Was A Substance Abuse CounselorThe case is made even more bizarre and appalling by the fact that 52-year-old Sherri Lynn Wilkins made her living as a substance abuse counselor, helping others combat addictions to drugs and alcohol. But when she struck and killed Moreno at about 11:15 pm the night of the man-on-car murder in Torrance, California, just south of Los Angeles on November 24 of 2012, her blood alcohol was 0.17.
That's more than double the legal limit.
But Wilkins didn't just hit Moreno with her car and drive away. She hit him so hard that his pants and shoes flew off and landed yards away in the street. She hit him so hard that his body crashed part way through the windshield of her Mitsubishi.
And then — Sherri Lynn Wilkins drove for two miles with Phillip Moreno stuck in her windshield, his pantsless lower body on the hood of her car. That's how the killing earned the name, man-on-car murder.
Sherri Lynn Wilkins' Inexplicable Behavior With Man On Her CarBut that's not even the whole story of the man-on-car murder. As Wilkins drove with Moreno jammed through her smashed windshield, she made two cell phone calls to her husband. At one point — after driving the man on her car past a gas station and a firehouse — she could have taken a turn that led to a hospital just minutes away.
Instead she turned the other direction. Finally, a crowd of onlookers somehow persuaded her to pull over into a gas station parking lot. Moreno was still alive and may have been saved if he had received immediate attention when Wilkins first hit him.
Driver "Disregarded Her Victim As A Human Being"But the terrible man-on-car incident became the man-on-car murder when Moreno later perished from his injuries in a hospital.
Wilkins later claimed that she was not drunk, she had simply been "self-medicating" before having surgery to replace her knee. Tests found not only alcohol but traces of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — and benzodiazepine in her system, as well as empty alcohol containers in her car.
Her defense lawyers said that Moreno deliberately leaped on her car. Wilkins claimed she never saw him coming before turning him into the man-on-car murder victim.
But Wilkins was convicted on February 4.
"We do not tolerate someone who does not pull over when they see someone on their windshield," Deputy District Attorney John Harlan said, fittingly, after the man-on-car murder verdict. "Wilkins consciously disregarded her victim as a human being."