Marci Kitchen Pleads Guilty to Fatally Striking Her Daughter, Kiya, and Faith Tsarnas While Driving Drunk And Then Fleeing the Scene

This article was written by Kim Wear and previously posted in the North Coast Journal. It is reprinted here with their permission.

Marci Kitchen mugshotJust weeks before her trial was set to begin, Marci Kitchen stood in front of Judge Kaleb Cockrum today and pleaded guilty to all the charges she was facing for fatally hitting two teenage girls, including her daughter, while driving drunk then fleeing the scene in 2016.

Wearing a black and white brocade dress with a suit jacket, Kitchen spent the proceedings with her hands clasp in front of her, appearing at times to hold back tears. She quietly answered Cockrum’s questions about whether she understood the implications of pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter and DUI causing injury, along with the special allegations that she caused the girls’ deaths and fled the scene.

The judge explained that Kitchen’s decision was predicated on him sentencing her to the mid-term cap of two years for the principle charge, but it was unclear if he was referring to vehicular manslaughter or DUI causing injury.

Cockrum noted that Kitchen’s maximum exposure in the case was a “point of contention,” with the defense asserting it was 10 years and four months and the prosecution placing the total at 11 years.

He said that he will consider the probation report, the stance of the district attorney’s office and input from family and friends of the defendant and the victims in making his final decision at her Sept. 18 sentencing.

“If I do consider the four-year high term, I will give you your plea back,” Cockrum told Kitchen, which means the case would once again head to trial.

The judge also declined Deputy District Attorney Stacey Eads’ request to have Kitchen immediately taken into custody without bail pending sentencing. Eads cited Kitchen’s role in the “tragic deaths of two young girls” and her efforts “to cover up the crime,” as well as the potential she could flee.

Attorney Heidi Holmquist-Wells, representing Kiya Kitchen’s father Joe Kitchen and her brother, also asked for Marci Kitchen to be taken into custody, noting that she has essentially been convicted and that 770 days have passed since the girls were killed.

“The only logical decision is to remand her into custody,” Holmquist-Wells said.
Kitchen’s attorney, Deputy Conflict Counsel Meagan O’Connell, argued against custody, saying her client has abided by “every bail condition” and has had periods of travel from which she “returned as planned.”

Cockrum set a Sept. 4 custody hearing on the matter.

News of the plea came last Friday at a previously scheduled hearing called to discuss potential jury questions, although Joe Kitchen told local [reporter] Kym Kemp that he had been notified the day before.

At that time, O’Connell, turned in a filled-out plea form to Cockrum, who then set today’s hearing, saying he wanted Marci Kitchen to be present.

Eads made clear Monday that the mid-term cap was not an offer from her office, as she had about Kitchen’s plea decision after Friday’s hearing when she stated: “She’s pleading as charged. The people have offered nothing.”

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72 comments

  • What’s wrong with this picture??????

  • yup lock her up start the time. should have been 20 years….

  • This is just sick,wrong,

  • 2 years minimum 4 years high term? This is not right. Not at all…

    • That is for one of the number of charges she faces. Add the other charges, and she is facing either 10 years plus four months, or 11 years, total.

  • How do you give someone their guilty plea back? It’s not like it’s a punch bowl that someone brought to a party.

    • It would be great if he gave the plea back. It means the plea is rejected and it has to go to trial.

      • 25 to life no compromise

        That would be best!

        • And explain why that would be best please. She entered a plea admitting guilt. The purpose of a trial from the prosecution side is to prove without a doubt the defendant’s guilt. If the defendant is voluntarily admitting her guilt the need for a trial no longer exist. Everyone who is angry and still wishing for a trial must not understand that a trial is not a guaranteed guilty outcome. There’s always a chance she could be found not guilty, guilty of some charges but not others, have a mistrial, have a hung jury, etc etc if she chose to go to trial. She has admitted her guilt on all the charges against her, what more do you think would happen if she went to trial?

    • The report says that she made her plea based on a 2-year sentence for one charge. If the judge decides that she should receive a 4-year sentence for that single charge, then he will reject her plea, and she will go to trial, where she will almost certainly be convicted, and face the maximum penalty ( which is the 4-year sentence for the single charge, plus an additional seven years for all of the other charges combined. He’s not giving her a present. If he rejects her plea, it gets worse for her, not better.

  • I don’t understand the prosecutor’s statement that the proposed sentence “was not an offer from her office”. Does that mean the prosecution accepted the pleading guilty but that the negotiated sentence was only between the judge and the defendant? At best they must have agreed to accepting what the judge apparently “offered” without protest and saying they didn’t themselves “offer” anything is disingenuous. They “offered” their pre approval if nothing else.

    • The DA can offer a deal but the judge signs off on it. The judge and only the judge can sentence. Most do not understand the role of each person in the judical system. The DA had zero pull in accepting a guilty plea. Also they haze zero control over sentencing other than asking or recommending what they would like to see done. The judge makes those decisions.

      • A plea agreement is just that- an agreement. There is a concession by both parties. Otherwise the plaintiff just pleads guilty.

        Then it goes into the judge’s hands for sentenancing. Part of the agreement must have been that Kitchen could withdraw it if the sentencing did not come out as agreed upon. That is the disingenuous part- That they must have agreed to a conditional guilty plea, knowing full well that all the effective power to object was given to the plaintiff

        The judge only accepts or rejects after both parties come to him with their agreement.

  • This smells suspiciously like bullshit. So she plead guilty to a 2 year sentence? And if the judge gives her 4 years (or more- as she deserves) than she gets to pull back her guilty plea?!! I’ve never heard of such a thing! AND…as a bonus for her she gets to roam free on bail until the next court date?! Because the judge has to consider and weigh many things that the judge has not had time to do in these last 2 friggin’ years?!! All I can guess is that her boyfriend Josh’s father Mel Pearlston- the longtime weed and drugs lawyer- is pulling some serious favors in on this one. Nothing else can explain this complete miscarriage of justice.

  • This system is all screwed up..

  • Mistake: it was NOT DUI causing injury…it WAS DUI causing death! What’s wrong with this picture indeed!

  • It appears someone high up is trying to sweep this all under the rug and they can’t quite pull it off because of the publicity. Slight of hand. Where is Faith’s parents in all this?

    • Faith’s family is present and grieving terribly.
      She ripped this family from their young girl and shows no remorse.
      This judge needs to go back to where ever he came from and I hope this case haunts him for the rest of his days!
      GET TOUGH ON CRIME.
      She chose to drink, drive, hide her car then pretended to care for a minute.
      This sentence does not fit the crime.

      • She hasn’t been sentenced! Do you people even read the story and then use your brain before commenting?

  • This just makes me sick! She’s a murderer. She knew enough to go home and hide her car after she hit those young girls and left them to just lay there to die! Then didn’t she take off to South America or something afterwards? She should NOT have been let out on bail! And then they put off the next hearing until
    Sept. 4th because she has plans for Labor day!!! WTH!!! Those girls will never get to make plans for Labor day or for any other Holiday ever again. And the parents of the other young lady will NEVER have another holiday with their child. I can’t even imagine what their holidays must be like without their child… This is just absolutely WRONG. Just my opinion.

    • Labor Day? Really? If she is concerned about fricking Labor Day and the judge is sympathetic to her Labor Day cravings then they all should be locked away in a loony bin. Who the hell has this much shit hanging over their head and is concerned about Labor Day? No one!

  • I wonder about civil settlements and whether they played a part in this. So much of what goes on in the court system is really theater that is run by attorneys, for attorneys. Even those who sit through court cases are unlikely to have anywhere near all available information. So much of the time a juror is left with the feeling that something doesn’t make sense but that all the court officials to leaving it at that.

    • When that happens it is the duty of the juror to use nullification. Jury nullification is also part of our judicial system, just one that has been forgotten. People should read up on it. Its something we should bring back. A superior court judge agreed with me when I told him it needed to be used when a judge doesn’t do his/her job.

  • 2 years minimum, 4 years “high term”? That’s not right. Not right at all…

  • You mean if drive wasted, kill two teenagers, leave them bleeding on the street and then flee the scene and deny hitting the teens that I will only get 2 years punishment? Alright!!! I want 3 more Whiskey on the rocks and 2 shots of yager, who cares if I drive drunk and kill someone, it’s my business, I will only get two years because in Humboldt dui’s are unimportant, the only important crime is growing pot in the wrong zoning or not getting a permit. Yahoo, lets get wasted Humboldt, we all got a keep out of jail card like MarcinKitchen who killed her daughter and her friend and walked after 2 years……

    • There is a difference of opinion of how much time Ms. Kitchen is facing. The prosecution believes it is 11 years and the defense believes it is 10 years and four months. The two years in discussion is just one charge of the total not the entire time she is facing.

      • Thank you kym… I was seriously wondering, cuz 2 years did sound incredibly light considering 2 young live lost..

  • I must respond by saying what the hell is with this county!! Catch and release day in and day out.
    Drug zombies everywhere.
    2 youths death by a drunk driver who fled the for quite some time. It doesnt matter if she was the mother – I personally feel thats even more discussing.
    Decades of allowing growers to rape from our beautiful river and poisoning on our lands to the point there is a type of deer gone from here.
    Missing young people who I can only imagine were/are some type of slaves.
    I’m so mad I’m forgetting more abuses that have been overlooked/paid off.

    Feel free to add to this post! If you feel the best comment you have is about my grammer/spelling…..then God Bless you!

  • Her sentence is the maximum prescribed by law. She is not getting any “deal”. And it has nothing to do with humboldt county. The utter ignorance displayed by commenters is breathtaking.
    She will serve at least half of the approximately 11 years if she has no problems in prison.
    She will carry the burden of killing her own daughter & her daughter’s friend for her entire life.
    Who among us is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.

    • Anti troll league

      So the plea agreement taking time off is no “deal”? Hmm…

      BTW you are assuming that she also has fulfilled the last part of that reference. That she has gone and sinned no more. Some of the remarks raised questions about that. Comments on other’s “utter ignorance” might be misplaced.

      • There is no DEAL. She pled guilty. No offer made by DA. NO DEAL IS INVOLVED HERE.
        It is hard to believe any of you can read.

        • Testes, testes, one two...three?

          I’ve long ago come to realize all internet news forums are worthless cesspools of volatile stupidity. I see nothing but the words of lifeless souls desperate for affirmation.

        • Anti trolling league

          Sigh. Sentence bargaining. Look it up. That is the gain for pleading guilty. A guilty plea is not the only type of bargaining that goes on. It is why the plea is conditional AS STATED BY THE JUDGE. (Wow getting exasperated in CAPS is interesting. Inarticulate but interesting.)

          Just because the DA said they made no deal doesn’t mean there is no attempted dealing between the judge and the defense.

          You didn’t have to get rude. But since you did, I will say that it is reading is clearly done but comprehension is very uncertain. Now has trading insults done anything for you? It makes me depressed because I prefer to think people can be better than that. A one sided insult is also depressing, so either way it’s ugly.

    • It doesn’t seem as though she has any regrets other than the fact that she got caught. She did everything that she could to avoid being caught including trying to get her son to lie for her. It seems that she is still not taking this very seriously since she has made plans for Labor Day. (Really?) Our legal system is sad. I can’t call it the justice system since most of the time justice is not served.

    • Yes thank u flatgirl that is the truth. If you (commenters) don’t like the laws you should educate yourself on ballot initiatives and VOTE.

    • Justice for Faith and Kiya

      Pretty sure that sentence offered is mid cap and not the maximim. Or else the Judge would not be permitting her to withdraw her guilty plea if he gives her more time. He said he will consider testimony from friends and family as well as the probation report. Time speak up and be heard. Be there September 4th. Or write Judge Cockrum at The Humboldt County Superior Court, 825 Fifth Street, Eureka CA 95501. Be heard!

  • I helped build the Madera women’s prison I hope that’s her new home

  • Can someone post a listing og the charges with the agreement condition for each charge. I appreciate the clarification.

    • No one can post that because that’s not what is happening here. The clarification is that today Marci Kitchen entered a guilty plea on all charges against her. She signed a document saying I am guilty. Now we wait for sentencing.

  • In San Luis Obispo county, they charge DUI-related deaths as 2nd degree murder…

    • Halfdeaf, does anybody know why Humboldt seems softer on crime tan other areas such as San Luis Obispo. Thank you.

      • It’s not Humboldt County it’s the state, and the uneducated voters, like yourself, who are the problem. If you don’t educate yourself on ballot initiatives, and just go off the Nice sounding names they are given, you are part of the problem.

  • Its about time .!!!!! I wonder how she is preparing, for her years of incarceration, it s down to days soon it will be hours .Then it’s the realization of the cuffs being put on buy the bailiff, and you head to jail .

  • Testes, testes, one two...three?

    You commenters are sick. She killed her own daughter. That’s worse punishment than the law could ever sentence. May everybody involved find peace.

    • Anti troll league

      A psychopath would not think that way. But I can see how that a belief her suffering might be more comforting even if unproven.

    • Go back and pray for her , and then put money on her book’s, you should be her BFF.

  • I agree with these people she should be givin the hardest sentence possible for snuffing out those two young girls lives. Throw her in prison [edit]

  • She’s only “suffering” because she got caught. Marci Kitchen has done everything humanly possible to avoid taking responsibility for those girl’s deaths. She’s an utter failure as a mother or a human being.

    • No one except for her can say how she feels inside. And her “doing everything humanly possible to avoid taking responsibility” is really her just dealing with the legal side of this the way cases are dealt with in this country. Apparently most of you are clueless about any of that. She was arrested. She hired an attorney. She bailed out. Her attorneys counseled her and handled the formalities. She had permission from the courts to travel outside the county. She traveled. She came back. The courts wanted her passport. She gave it to them. She and/or her attorney showed up at every court date. She must not have gotten the change of venue her attorney requested. She voluntarily entered a guilty plea on all charges against her right before jury selection was going to begin. The judge accepted it and agreed to not take her into custody now because she has not run and has cooperated and obeyed her conditions of being out on bail. Now we all just wait for the next court procedure. It’s just the way our courts work. If our judges let emotion dictate his/her decisions the way most of you let them dictate your opinions we all would be in a world of trouble.

      • You sound you believe familiarity with the court system is a good thing. Unless you work there, that just says you have experience and probably from one position.

        BTW only a fool thinks that judge’s emotions are not in play. Just question the authority or accuracy of one in court and learn how the arrogance of power shouldn’t be confused with emotional distance.

        • Actually everything I stated in my comment was information that I’ve read on this website about this case. Whether or not I am familiar with the court system doesn’t even matter, it’s all printed in black and white right in front of our eyes. All these yahoos on here complaining about I can’t believe the judge didn’t take her into custody right now should try reading the story. If they did it should be obvious that she is out on bail. Get it?

      • Bleeding heart’s is why she is out , poor girl ,set her free and give her a 🍸🍸& 🚗 .

        • She posted bail! That is why she’s out, nothing to do with bleeding or hearts, she simply posted bail. Soon she will no longer be out, she will be incarcerated and on her way to whichever prison the state sends her to.

  • All right Donny Mills…..time to speak up about what YOU SAW THAT DAY!

  • “Should it ever be your misfortune, gentlemen, or mine, to need to kill a man, let us toast together the possibility that our trials may be held in this camp.”

  • I don’t spend much time in town, is she out and about like a normal person going shopping, getting gas, going to restaurants, etc? Do people see her around doing her thing? And how is she treated over all?

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