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Jury Deadlocks Over Murder Charge in California DUI Case

Posted on in DUI

A Gilroy man faced such a charge last week. The matter went to trial. Prosecutors allege the Gilroy man drank beer before climbing behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Silverado on February 3, 2009. The prosecutor claimed the man then ran a red light, broadsided a van and killed a six-year-old passenger in the van.

The prosecution brought a charge of second degree murder based upon implied malice. The 37-year-old defendant reportedly was convicted of DUI roughly ten years before the 2009 incident occurred. A second DUI reportedly was entered on the defendant's record when the defendant was a juvenile. The older conviction was more than 20 years old.

The prosecutor reportedly argued to the jury that the prior convictions for DUI and the alcohol education courses ordered in the previous matters left the defendant familiar with the risks involved with drinking and driving.

The jury reportedly deliberated for days over whether the defendant should be held accountable for a murder charge. Initially, the jury was evenly split six to six in their votes for acquittal. The foreman of the jury reportedly says some jurors found reasonable doubt about whether the defendant knew he was impaired at the time he allegedly drove and crashed the Silverado.

A number of jurors reportedly found that the alcohol education classes the defendant took after the most recent DUI occurred more than a decade ago. The jury remained split on the question of whether the defendant committed an intentional act.

The jury reportedly had several votes. After the initial split, the jury voted eight to four in favor of acquittal of the second degree murder charge. After days of struggling through the question, the jury held a final vote resulting in a seven to five split in favor of acquittal.

The jury hung on the question Friday and the judge declared a mistrial. Prosecutors have not indicated whether they will retry the case.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Jury stumbles on whether drunk driver is murderer," Tracey Kaplan, 19 Nov 2010

Tagged in: California
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