Pam Gross’s sisters offered forgiveness to the woman who accidentally ran over and killed Gross in June 2012.
But they also wanted Miranda Lalla to know the pain she caused when she killed Gross, a free-spirited optimist who loved nature and her family.
“I’m having a hard time understanding this and why it had to happen,” Rose Gross, of Cedar Falls, said of her daughter’s death. “I will miss those special moments with Pam, especially her laughter, the twinkle in her eyes and that beautiful smile that lit up her face.”
Lalla, 52, of Iowa City, was sentenced Monday to up to 25 years in prison for vehicular homicide while intoxicated. Judge Douglas Russell suspended Lalla’s driver’s license for six years and ordered her to pay $150,000 in restitution to Gross’s estate. Lalla also must complete a course for drunken driving.
Lalla, speaking quietly in a courtroom before a dozen of Gross’s family members, apologized for killing a woman she considered a friend.
“All I can do is be as responsible as I can from this point on,” she said.
Monday’s sentencing was the end of years of drug, theft and parole violations for Lalla.
Gross, 44, faced her own challenges. She was homeless at the time of her death, but was making plans to move into an apartment a month later, her family said. Gross loved to fish and watch storms track across the night sky, her sister Linda Newell said.
Lalla and Gross had been together at the Jobsite bar in Iowa City on June 17, 2012. Lalla drove them home, but a fight broke out between them in an apartment parking lot. When Lalla tried to leave in her Dodge Ram, she ran over Gross, who was standing next to the open driver’s side door.
Gross was pronounced dead at a local hospital.“There is no monster here,” Assistant Johnson County Attorney Jude Pannell said. “This is a woman who shouldn’t have been behind the wheel.”