STOCKTON – A Manteca man pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges he tried to murder his wife by driving at high speeds from the couple’s home all the way to Pleasanton as she clung to the hood.
Christopher Michael Carroll, 36, will spend the next five years in state prison after also admitting guilt in a negotiated plea deal to domestic violence stemming from a fight at the couple’s home Feb. 25.
The fight was followed by the wild 51-mile drive through the midnight cold across the Altamont Pass as Carroll swerved through traffic in an attempt to throw his wife from the hood, a prosecutor said.
His wife, Rebecca Ann Carroll, 25, got the last word Wednesday, standing up in court to make her impact statement before San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Brett Morgan imposed the agreed-upon sentence. She scolded her husband, noting that he had once vowed to protect her.
That’s not what he did as she screamed for him to stop, she said.
“He laughed and smiled and turned up the music and danced while he drove,” she said. “He enjoyed it.”
That night started with a fight at the couple’s Manteca home, where San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Maria Ghobadi said Christopher Carroll punched his wife and poked her in the eyes.
He next grabbed the keys and got in their minivan to leave. Fearing he was in no condition to drive under the influence of methamphetamine, she tried to stop him by jumping on the hood.
Her pants got caught, preventing her from immediately getting off the car, Ghobadi said. On the drive to Pleasanton, Christopher Carroll swerved through traffic, trying to throw her off. At times he hit 100 mph.
At least two people along the way witnessed Carroll driving with his wife on the hood, Ghobadi said, adding that his wife scraped her back when she was finally able to let go and jump off the car in Pleasanton.
Manteca police have said that Rebecca Carroll was treated for hypothermia.
Rebecca Carroll’s hands shook with nerves as she stood in court, reading from handwritten notes. At times she cried through her words.
“I shouldn’t have needed anybody to protect me from my own husband,” she said. “I thought I was going to die that night at the hands of Christopher Carroll.”
This was not the first time that she had been the subject of his abuse in a rocky seven-year relationship with the construction worker, she said. It would be the last, she added, describing the harrowing ride.
Carroll said she screamed at her husband, but he kept driving. He was going too fast for her to jump off safely, so she held on tightly, she said.
“I knew if I let go I would be unidentifiable road kill,” she said. “He has no remorse that I was within 1 inch of my life.”
As she spoke, her husband stood across the court wearing red jail garb and shackles. He rocked back and forth on his heels, taking it in. They lived in Lathrop several years and moved to a rental in Manteca about two months before the incident.
Nothing could justify what he did to her that night, she said, adding that she feels her husband still wishes her ill and blames her.
In the end, Rebecca Carroll said she was able to get off her husband’s sinking ship.
“I survived this,” she said. “And I will survive anything.”
When she finished speaking, she paused to glare at her husband in the hushed courtroom. She wore a bright spring skirt and high-heeled shoes and arched her back defiantly while resting her hands on her hips. He did not meet her gaze.