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Appeals court affirms driver’s guilt in woman’s death

Survivors of a woman who was killed in a 2015 collision with another driver can take heart from a recent state appeal’s court ruling. The three justices on California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the imprisoned motorist’s claim of insufficient prosecutorial evidence.

The victim died of catastrophic injuries on May 7, 2015, following a crash in Pomona near the intersection of Mariposa Street and West Arrow Highway. Her Honda was traveling normally in a 45 mph zone when it was struck by the convicted defendant driving a neighbor’s Mercedes-Benz without permission. He was speeding 127 mph and fleeing police when he hit the woman.

Judges on the appeals court noted the impact caused the woman’s Honda to break off a wooden power pole before it tumbled for 30 feet and stopped upside down. The driver of the Mercedes was convicted in 2017 of causing serious bodily injury, driving a vehicle without consent, driving on a suspended license from an earlier DUI conviction, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, second-degree murder and fleeing police officer in pursuit.

The convicted driver was sentenced to 18 years to life in state prison. He took his neighbor’s car without permission when he was legally more than three times over the legal limit to drive. At the time of the fatal wreck, his blood alcohol content (BAC) was .27.

In cases like this one, victims or their survivors face parallel paths to justice through both the criminal and civil courts. Regardless of the eventual outcome of any criminal proceedings, it is possible to sue negligent drivers in the California civil courts for the damages and losses that they caused.