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Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Bit Of The Law Facing Nick Adenhart's Killer

Still trying to wrap my head around this ...

As I expected, the driver of the red minivan that struck the car carrying Nick Adenhart — one Andrew Thomas Gallardo, 22, of Riverside — was driving on a suspended license. Drunk drivers are often repeaters. Hopefully this is the last time he will be driving anywhere, or for that matter, free for a very long time. To that end, it appears that Gallardo has been charged with felony hit-and-run, a violation of Sec. 20001 of the California Vehicle Code. He's facing as little as 90 days in county lockup (¶ 2) or up to five years in state prison; the term could be longer if he were charged with vehicular manslaughter (Sec. 191 and 192 of the California Penal Code), but I haven't seen him so charged anywhere.

Update: The Times' front page story today says that "felony hit-and-run driving, DUI, vehicular manslaughter and, possibly, murder charges" are on the table. That would mean he's eligible for 15 years to life under California Penal Code Sec. 191.5(d).

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He will eventually be charged with 2nd degree murder, which is now fairly common when a repeat-DUI offender kills someone. That wasn't always the case; back when I was in high school in the mid-80s, a student at my school was killed by a drunk driver with about 5 priors. I'm pretty sure he was the first person in California who was successfully prosecuted for 2nd degree murder (depraved indifference to human life) for killing someone in a DUI accident. Nowadays, prosecutors can successfully nail people for 2nd degree when there is felonious driving involved (e.g., DUI with priors & suspended license, driving stolen vehicle, etc. - a woman recently got 22 years for killing a girl in Pasadena while evading police in a stolen vehicle).

There's a big difference between charges people are booked on (i.e., the ones the cops can confirm at the moment of arrest) and what they're eventually charged with by the DA. That's because at the moment of arrest, the cops don't usually know all the facts. The arrest could be successfully challenged at arraignment if the cops arrest and book someone on charges that they can't substantiate at that very moment.
Yeah, that's what Helen was suggesting, and as the story link in the update shows, it looks exactly like what the cops are doing.
And are the charges multiplied by the number of people involved (ie. killed)?
From my limited reading of the law, it's not clear, but I would imagine a multiple homicide would certainly have added time for each count. In e-mail conversations with a longtime reader who is also a criminal defense attorney, it's certain, given the law and the jurisdiction, Gallo will be facing homicide charges as soon as the details can be ironed out.

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