Office of the District Attorney
Yreka. On May 17, 2023, in Siskiyou County Superior Court, Jaden Hunter Quiring, 19, of McCloud, CA, was sentenced to 6 years in State Prison for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated, a felony. He as also convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Causing Injury, and personally inflicting great bodily injury. The victim was Steven Ramos Jr., 20, of McCloud. Quiring had pled guilty to these offenses on March 8, 2023. Up until the sentencing hearing Quiring was out of custody, having been released on bail soon after his arrest.
On June 29-30, 2022, Quiring was 18 years old. On the evening of the 29th he chose to drink alcohol at a friend’s home in McCloud, CA, with other underaged persons. Some of these friends were juveniles. After an evening of heavy drinking Quiring gave a friend a ride home with other passengers in his car. He successfully made this trip, and then returned back to the home where the others were still drinking. He left again at about 2:00 a.m. carrying two passengers. He made it to the home of one passenger, a juvenile. Tragically, the other passenger, Mr. Ramos, did not make it home.
While driving on Highway 89 outside of McCloud, Quiring embodied the danger of an intoxicated driver. Traveling well above the speed limit, Quiring tried to pass a vehicle in front of him. He swerved to the left, crossing double yellow lines. After passing the vehicle he attempted to merge back into the correct lane, but lost control of his car and slammed into a tree. The motorist who was driving the passed vehicle stopped to help. He was able to cut Quiring’s seatbelt as the car was burning and pull him out of the car with the assistance of another passing driver. Mr. Ramos was killed due to the impact of the crash. The California Highway Patrol investigated the case.
Assistant District Attorney Martha Aker represented the District Attorney’s Office at the sentencing hearing in from the Superior Court Judge Joanne Bicego. In front of a full courtroom, she set forth the reasons why the Court should sentence the defendant to state prison rather than grant probation. At the hearing many family members of Mr. Ramos addressed the Court. His great-grandmother described a “tremendous amount of grief” that all of his family would have throughout their lives. A cousin noted the “stress, anxiety and depression” that resulted from the terrible tragedy that “Steven never deserved.” She described him as a “shining light.” Mr. Ramos’ father spoke about the impossibility of the family putting his son’s death behind them. He also noted the number of community members present in support of Quiring. He noted that he felt no animosity toward them or hate toward Quiring but that his request for a probationary sentence was “absolutely ridiculous to me.”
Another relative described the Mr. Ramos’ death as “tortuous” and amounted to a “life sentence” for his family. He described Mr. Ramos as “beautiful” until the deadly trauma of the collision which was the worst thing he had ever seen, even in his career as a trauma nurse. He related the pain of having Steven’s little brother have to “pass by his bedroom every day, empty.”
Mr. Ramos’ grandfather poignantly described hearing the joyous noises through the wall of the hospital when Steven was born and then the anguished cries of his mother through the wall when he was killed. Regarding Quiring, he told the Court, “you learn from mistakes through consequences.”
A grandmother related to the Court that Quiring’s weapons of choice were, “alcohol, a motor vehicle, and your stupidity.” Regarding the numerous letters of support Quiring had received from the community, she noted that he could shovel all the snow on Mt. Shasta and it wouldn’t be enough to atone for ending Steven’s life.
Steven’s mother addressed the Court. She said that she had no desire for Quiring to spend (the maximum) 10 years in prison but that, “I don’t think that probation is fair.” She pointed out that there are underage kids in McCloud still out there drinking and they wouldn’t benefit from Quiring being granted probation. “I hope the community stops supporting underage drinking,” she pled. Regarding the sentence, she asked the Court for, “some type of consequences so that everybody knows this is not okay to do.”
After the victim’s family’s presentation, the defendant rose and spoke. He turned toward the Ramos family and their supporters and said, “I’m sorry for what I have done. I hate myself. I wish it was me that had died.” He them spoke in glowing terms about the decedent, calling him “my best friend.” “I will never forgive myself. I would do anything to bring him back.” The defense then asked to call other witnesses on behalf of the defendant. Judge Bicego denied this request, noting the many positive letters that had been submitted on the defendant’s behalf and that she had read and considered them.
In sentencing the defendant, Judge Bicego noted that there are no easy answers in a tragic case such as this. She noted that Quiring was technically eligible for probation but quickly pointed out that she found probation an inappropriate sentence under the circumstances. The judge went through the meaning of “gross negligence,” an operable term in the crime Quiring had admitted, and how it involved more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment. It involves actions that are so different from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation that his act amounted to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences. Judge Bicego pointed to the decision Quiring had made that night, including drinking to excess and driving “extraordinarily recklessly.” She noted that Quiring clearly had positive traits but that the crime he had committed would preclude the minimum prison term as, “imposition of the low term [would be] contrary to the interests of justice.”
Though she found that aggravating sentencing factors outweighed mitigating factors, Judge Bicego noted the defendant’s mitigating factors of childhood trauma, no prior criminal history, and an early admission of wrongdoing. She ruled that the middle term of 6 years was the appropriate sentence under the circumstances. She remanded Quiring into custody, meaning that he was required to surrender himself to correctional authorities from the courtroom, and remanded him to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to serve his sentence. He was awarded 1 day of custody credit.
District Attorney Kirk Andrus, who called the hearing “heartbreaking for Steven’s family and for everybody present,” noted that there was nothing happy or pleasant about a young man of such positive potential being sentenced to prison. He also commented afterward that several people had touched on the subject of the adult who provided the alcohol, which impairment led to the death of Steven Ramos Jr. “The fact that we are here for Jaden Quiring’s sentencing does not absolve that person of their measure of responsibility. Steven’s mother is so right in her concern for the future behavior of the youth of her community and the future generations. The lessons about the deadly mixture of alcohol and motor vehicles that cost Steven his life must resonate with everyone who faces similar choices. Adults must stop their complicity, and Steven’s family is entitled to ask that young people honor Steven’s name by changing their attitudes and behaviors around underage drinking, as well as drinking and driving.”
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