Some criminal defense cases appear cut and dried on the surface, but often, underlying issues exist that complicate matters for the court. A recent trial centered on a fatal California car/pedestrian accident is one of these more complex defense cases.
The San Diego accident occurred in 2016, resulting in the death of a 41-year-old father and Lyft driver. According to reports, the Lyft driver was transporting three female passengers when one of them got sick. He stopped the car on the shoulder of a freeway and exited to help the sick woman.
The defendant approached the stopped vehicle from the rear and collided with the car and with the deceased. The three Lyft passengers suffered from injuries and so did the defendant's female passenger. The driver of the Lyft car died from his injuries at a hospital.
High blood alcohol content (BAC) combined with prior DUI convictions was not quite enough for a jury to find the defendant guilty of two serious charges. It deadlocked on the charge of "gross vehicular manslaughter" and on the charge of "second-degree murder." Reportedly, the prosecution will decide whether to seek a second trial for the deadlocked charges.
The jury did find the defendant guilty on the following charges.
- Felony hit and run causing death
- Felony DUI causing death
- Misdemeanor driving on a suspended license
The prosecution argued that the defendant deserved the murder conviction due to his prior DUI convictions. The criminal defense attorney advocated for her client by explaining that he has a serious learning disability. She argued that his disability prevents him from understanding concepts like conscious disregard for human life and criminal intent.
Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, "Jury finds driver guilty of DUI, hit-run in crash that killed Lyft driver," Pauline Repard, April 20, 2018