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Police still have not determined, or publicly announced, what may have led to the tragic accident. Authorities say that the pickup truck, for some unknown reason, drove onto a sidewalk, and struck the two women. The truck then became wedged between a pole and a concrete retaining wall. The accident occurred outside the Marriott Hotel in Walnut Creek around 6:15 Saturday evening.

The Contra Costa Times reports that authorities have not yet determined whether speed, alcohol or drugs may have been a factor in causing the tragic accident. It is also unclear from publicly released information whether some other factor, such as perhaps a medical emergency preceded the sidewalk crash.

A 52-year-old Santa Barbara, California, woman was killed in the sidewalk accident. Her daughter-in-law was critically injured and was taken to a Walnut Creek hospital.

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The alleged driver of the car was the only Marine to survive that night. He had suffered head trauma and sustained a broken arm. The man was knocked unconscious in the crash. Authorities claim that alcohol tests taken after the crash indicate that the man tested for a 0.16 percent blood alcohol level.

The Marine has now been formally charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence. Prosecutors are also reportedly seeking sentencing enhancements in the felony DUI criminal case.

Military and civilian witnesses who were at the tavern where the four Marines are believed to have spent more than three hours the night of the crash say that the man accused of drunk driving had not been drinking that night. The witnesses reportedly say that the 25-year-old man accused of drinking and driving was the designated driver.

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Most Californians may be familiar with the constitutional concept of the right to remain silent. Popular culture has long depicted Miranda rights in cop shows to wrap up an episode. That public awareness, however, does not necessarily include recognition of the importance, or the potential abuse of the important constitutional right.

A state appeals court recently threw out a conviction of a Redwood City man based upon the court's finding that prosecutors violated the defendant's right to remain silent before the jury at trial. The man was accused of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence after a fatal accident at a Redwood City intersection in February 2007.

The prosecutor told the jury that the man accused of negligence did not ask about the occupants of the other car involved in the accident. The prosecutor unfairly argued to the jury that the man's silence after the alleged crash showed that he knew that he was in the wrong at the time of the accident. The man's silence occurred when he was effectively under arrest, according to the appellate court ruling, which was handed down last week.

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Posted on in Felony DUI

The California Highway Patrol announced Wednesday that an 18-year-old was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter stemming from allegations surrounding a Saturday evening car accident. Law enforcement says they believe the 18-year-old lost control of a Jeep while traveling on Tassajara Road just after 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The Jeep reportedly rolled several times after leaving the pavement.

The California Highway Patrol says they are requesting felony DUI charges to be filed in relation to the accident. Authorities say a 19-year-old Carmel Valley resident was killed in the roll-over accident and a second passenger was severely injured. Neither passenger was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, according to the CHP. A third passenger, who was wearing a seat belt reportedly, suffered minor injuries in the incident, according to the CHP.

Law enforcement says the man accused of driving at the time of the accident crawled up the embankment after the crash to get a signal on his cellphone. The accused man reportedly called in a report of the accident after the crash.

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Charges against a Gilroy man are expected to be upgraded on October 28 to include second degree murder. Police claim the 44-year-old man was involved in an alcohol related car crash that resulted in the death of a 4-year-old.

California DUI attorneys are aware that prosecutors in the state sometimes upgrade alcohol or drug related vehicular manslaughter charges based upon implied malice. In an implied malice case, the prosecutor seeks to prove that the accused was aware that an act is dangerous and commits the act anyway. The practice is known in California as a "Watson murder," based upon prior case law.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office has indicated that they will upgrade the charges this week against the Gilroy man. The accused rejected a plea bargain last week related to the current gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges.

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