SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -

Former congressional aide Raymond Morua was sentenced Wednesday morning in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

The presiding judge handed down a 20 year to life sentence for the fatal hit and run that took the life of 27-year-old Mallory Dies.

The accident happened last December.

The 32-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, admitted to two prior DUI convictions and fleeing the scene of a crime during previous court proceedings.

Morua has just left a holiday party the night of the fatal accident. At the time, he was working as an aide to Congresswoman Lois Capps.

The investigation shows Morua had been drinking at a downtown Santa Barbara bar prior to driving his Dodge Caliber out of parking lot 10.

Police say Morua's car struck Dies just after midnight as she and a group of friends were crossing the 500 block of Anacapa Street.

A witness told police Morua stopped briefly after the accident, looked back and then sped off.

The vehicle went into the dead end at Anacapa, followed by witnesses who contacted Morua and urged him to return to the scene.  

They tell police, Morua refused and sped away down Gutierrez St. westbound towards State St.

Moments later Morua slammed his vehicle into a palm tree at the corner of State Street and Cabrillo Boulevard while making a turn.

Police were immediately at the scene and arrested him.

The victim was taken to Cottage Hospital in critical condition with multiple injuries. Dies died days later after being removed from life support.

Police say a breath test at the scene showed Morua had a blood alcohol level of .17, more than twice the legal limit.

The Dies family appeared in court Wednesday to read victim impact statements.