Rookie Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed on April 9, 2009 in the early morning hours by a motorist who was driving under the influence of alcohol in Southern California. Adenhart and two other people were killed in Fullerton, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, when a drunk driver broadsided their car. The driver of the Mitsubishi with Adenhart was 20-year-old Courtney Stewart, a student at California State University at Fullerton. The third person killed in that same car was Henry Pearson, a 25-year-old law student who some day wished to be a sports agent. Gallo, so far, has not hired a pre-filing Los Angeles DUI defense attorney who can begin to review the evidence against him and talk to the District Attorney’s Office about alternative charges.
The driver, Andrew Gallo, 22, of San Bernardino ran the red light in the minivan he was driving. according to police sources. This was not Gallo’s first Southern California DUI. Three years ago he was arrested and convicted of driving under the influence. At the time of this accident, Gallo was still on probation for his 2006 San Bernardino DUI. In addition, he was driving on a suspended license. He was caught fleeing on foot 30 minutes after the accident running on the shoulder of the 91 freeway.
The early morning crash happened when Gallo drove through a red light with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. He broadsided the car that Adenhart was in, instantly killing the female driver and one of the passengers. Adenhart and another young man in the car were rushed to the hospital. Adenhart died on the operating table, the lone survivor is in stable condition after undergoing four different surgeries.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced that the 22-year-old Gallo would face three murder counts, one felony count for leaving the scene of an accident involving death or permanent injury, one count of felony DUI with injury, hit and run for leaving the scene of the accident, and a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent blood causing injury. The total number of years that Gallo can be imprisoned is 55 years to life. California allows for a murder charge to be filed by the prosecution in cases in which the driver drove with conscious disregard of the dangers and someone was killed as a result of an illegal act. This is called a Watson Murder.
Because of the law of the State of California, a person who has a previous conviction for a Los Angeles or Southern California DUI, and then subsequently, while driving under the influence, is responsible for an accident in which another person is killed, can be charged with 2nd degree murder. This charge carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in State prison. The theory the prosecution uses to convict the driver of murder is actually quite simple. The prosecution must prove that the DUI suspect knew the risks and dangers associated with driving under the influence, and knowing those risks, purposefully committed an illegal action that resulted in the death of another human being.
In simple terms, this means that the Los Angeles DUI suspect knew the risks of driving under the influence, disregarded that risk and thereby had the implied malice necessary to raise the level level of crime to implied malice murder, or murder int he 2nd degree.
In this case, Gallo had previously been convicted of a Southern California DUI and had been warned of the dangers of drinking and driving. This is called a “Watson advisement.” Then Gallo, knowing the risks still drank to the point where is blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, and then chose to drive the minivan.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles or you are under investigation for driving under the influence in Southern California, please contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut for 24/7 assistance by phone at (323) 464-6453 or toll free at (888) 334-6344 or online.