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June 14, 2023

Covington Woman Sentenced to 20 Years for Vehicular Homicide in an SUV / Motorcycle Collision

District Attorney Warren Montgomery reports that on Tuesday (June 13, 2023) 43 year-old Dawn Marie Pearson of Covington was sentenced after pleading guilty in March to multiple charges related to her drunken driving that caused the death of a tourist from Italy.

Pearson was sentenced by District Judge Scott Gardner to 20 years in prison for vehicular homicide and a total of 18 months incarceration for related traffic violations and an unrelated 2nd offense DUI. Pearson has prior convictions for possession of cocaine, theft, DUI and criminal mischief.

In February of 2020, Louisiana State Police were dispatched to a crash on US Highway 190 in Slidell. Pearson had struck the rear of the victim's Harley Davidson motorcycle which had slowed for a school zone. The victim, Giusto Paolo, had traveled to the U.S. from Italy and was doing a cross country trip on motorcycle. The impact fatally injured Paolo.

Pearson told officers that she slid due to wet pavement. Officers noted that Pearson appeared impaired and she had track marks on her arm. She performed poorly on the field sobriety tests and fell asleep in the police unit on the way to the hospital. Pearson's toxicology screen showed a variety of drugs in her system, including fentanyl, oxycodone, alprazolam and THC.

Paolo's daughter and son participated in court proceedings from Italy via Zoom, and read their victim statement before the Judge. They spoke very highly of their father, how his death had devastated the entire family as well as the community. They said they wanted “not revenge, but justice.” They said the defendant was a “murderess” because she chose to drive impaired but hoped that one day she would get “sober and fully realize what she did.”

Pearson's fianc√© and mother spoke on her behalf. Pearson addressed the family and told them she was sorry and hoped that one day they would forgive her. She said “I’ll have to look at myself in the mirror every day.”

This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Blake Peters.

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