Saying she showed "unparalleled callousness," a judge on Monday sent Sarah Elizabeth Dutra back to prison for her role in the high-profile death of a Woodbridge attorney.
Dutra, now 27, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder for the Sept. 11, 2001, death of Lawrence McNabney. At her resentencing hearing Monday, Judge F. Clark Sueyres said she helped drug the victim with horse tranquilizer and then did nothing as the man died.
"She assisted and but for her actions, Lawrence McNabney would be here," Sueyres said, siding with the previous 11-year sentence handed down several years ago after Dutra was convicted.
He also told Dutra to continue trying to better herself behind bars and to attempt to reconcile what he feels are two personalities.
The case has drawn headlines for more than five years, due mostly to the sensational details and odd assortment of figures involved. Chief among them were McNabney's wife, who had a long string of stolen aliases, and Dutra, a blonde college student who was 21 at the time.
Years later, the case still attracts attention because of legal proceedings. The case was one of the first in California to be sent back by the Third District Court of Appeal after a Supreme Court decision found problems with the state's sentencing rules.
Appellate justices said trial judge Bernard J. Garber overstepped his bounds by giving Dutra the maximum sentence, rather than the standard term of six years. Attorneys began preparing for a convoluted sentencing trial, but then the state Legislature changed the law, giving judges more discretion in sentencing.
So Sueyres alone read over the evidence and trial transcripts, ultimately giving a statement that was perhaps even more harshly worded than Garber's original sentencing.
McNabney's grown children did not attend the hearing - one gave birth two weeks ago - but Jodee Bebout, mother to two of his children, read a letter in which they said they have only a grave site, while Dutra can hug her own father.
Then Bebout, fighting tears and clutching a damp tissue, addressed Dutra: "Sarah, when you helped murder Larry, you helped kill a part of my children. And because of your efforts to get out of prison after helping kill someone, I can say you are still the sociopathic person you were on Sept. 11, 2001."
Dutra, who has shown very little emotion in every court appearance over the years, used two tissues herself Monday, her face turning red as tears filled her eyes.
She looked straight ahead as Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa recounted parts of the crime.
He told how Dutra and McNabney's wife, Laren Sims, placed a drugged McNabney in a wheelchair and shoved him into the back seat of his truck to get him away from a Southern California horse show. While the rest of the world watched the Twin Towers collapse - in the same city where Dutra's older brother lived - Dutra and Sims took a meandering path home, stopping in Yosemite to bury McNabney but changing their minds because the ground was hard and he was still alive.
Instead, after McNabney died in his Woodbridge home, his body was placed in a refrigerator in the garage while Sims and Dutra ran his Sacramento law office into the ground. For months, they cashed settlement checks intended for personal injury victims and made up excuses for McNabney's absence.
Four months later Sims, also known as Elisa McNabney, fled the state and was arrested in Florida, where she committed suicide in a jail cell.
Dutra, meanwhile, gave several interviews to San Joaquin County Sheriff's investigators. Deputy Public Defender Keith Arthur played the last 10 minutes of Dutra's final interview in March 2002, pointing out that she cried and agreed that if she had gone to police rather than go to her home in Vacaville to retrieve her dog after the drive from Southern California, McNabney might not have died.
Arthur displayed some of her prison artwork while her mother, Karen Dutra, said Dutra has tried to better herself and has an opportunity to paint murals at a cancer treatment center.
Arthur said Dutra went along with Sims' actions because she was also a victim and was manipulated by the 36-year-old woman.
Perhaps the larger issue, Sueyres said when attorneys were done arguing their sides, is determining who Dutra really is, since opposite images of her have been shown by family, her actions, her lack of a criminal record and her law enforcement interviews.
"The only theory I can find is that she, Miss Dutra, compartmentalizes," the judge said, pointing out that after McNabney died, Dutra slept in his bed and even drove a new convertible Jaguar with his body in the trunk.
"There was a high degree of cruelty in this crime," Sueyres said, causing Dutra's mother to draw a deep breath as she braced for the sentence.
After the crime, the judge pointed out, Dutra drove the Jaguar, went shopping, went on vacation, smoked marijuana - all financed by the last of the funds from McNabney's business.
Sueyres handed down the 11-year sentence, and then addressed Dutra, telling her he was glad to hear that she is trying to make the most of prison and lean on her family.
"Somehow within yourself, you have to reconcile those two parts of you, which we know exist, so that you can truly live the better side of yourself in the future," he said.
Dutra must serve at least 85 percent of the 11-year sentence before she is eligible for parole. That parole is also affected by her time in prison: Twice she lost 30 days' worth of credit as punishment, according to a probation report.
Officials at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla could not talk specifically about those instances, but Lt. Rich Williams said Dutra had a total of four disciplinary reports - one in 2004 and three in 2005. Two were administrative, meaning she did not lose time, and two were serious. Some inmates, he said, get written up daily.
Dutra's mother said in court that she has been attacked in prison several times and has had to learn to defend herself.