This Week the Trials of Two DUI Repeat Offenders Responsible For Fatal Car Accidents Began in Orange County. Both Have Been Charged With Second-Degree Murder. An Orange County Car Accident Attorney Discusses The Implications of the Charges
Tuesday marked the beginning of two disturbingly similar trials in Orange County: that of 22-year-old Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man responsible for the Fullerton car accident that left Nick Adenhart, the promising, 22-year-old rookie pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, dead, as well as Courtney Stewart, 20, and Henry Pearson, 25; and that of 30-year-old Angel Herrera Leal, who caused a head-on collision while driving the wrong way on the 5 Freeway, killing his passenger, 29-year-old Rebecca Moon. Both men are DUI repeat offenders. Gallo holds one DUI conviction from 2006 and was on probation when he took the wheel again after an evening of heavy drinking. Despite possessing two prior DUI convictions, Leal decided to drive after consuming four times the legal limit of alcohol. Due to their prior convictions, both men have been charged with second-degree murder.
“DUI offenders are forced to complete alcohol education courses—courses that teach them about the dangers of drunk driving,” explains an Orange County car accident attorney, “It is this awareness of the dangers that underlies the legal theory behind the decision to charge the men for murder instead of vehicular manslaughter.”
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is defined in Penal Code Section 191.5 (Manslaughter), as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle...” Section “E” of the Code states, “This section shall not be construed as prohibiting or precluding a charge of murder under Section 188 upon facts exhibiting wantonness and a conscious disregard for life to support a finding of implied malice…”
The prison sentence is considerably longer for DUI offenders convicted of second- degree murder than for those convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated: while the former carries a base sentence of 15 years to life, the latter carries one of up to 10 years. Gallo has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder, felony hit-and-run, and driving on a suspended license, which could amount to 50 years to life if he is convicted.
In a country where a life is lost every 45 minutes in a car accident involving drunk driving, DUI repeat offenders should suffer greater consequences for their actions, especially when those actions result in injuries and loss of human life. In California, this means longer prison terms and, more recently, ignition interlock devices.
The Orange County car accident attorneys at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis, and Leslie would like to offer their condolences to the families of the accident victims mentioned in this article. They will be in our thoughts and prayers.
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