30-Year Sentence In Fatal DUI Accident

The East Bay Times reports on a man sentenced to 30 years in prison for the death of a mother and her baby.

39-year-old Brian Jones was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison on Friday.

The sentence comes after a jury found Jones guilty of two charges of 2nd-degree murder. The charges themselves stem from a May 2, 2015 accident in which he fatally struck Esperanza Morales Rodriguez, 46, and her 14-month-old daughter Yulida Perez-Morales as they walked the 900 block of Murietta Boulevard in Livermore.

Prior to the accident, Jones had been at the Livermore wine festival. His blood-alcohol content was .14, nearly two times the legal limit. Further evidence showed that when he fatally struck mother and child, he was traveling at a speed of 99 m.p.h. in a 35-m.p.h. zone

The jury deliberated for a full day before finding Jones guilty of murder. His defense attorney argued that Jones was indeed guilty, but only of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. His defense attorney argued that Jones was overconfident in his driving abilities, but that did not make him a murderer.

Usually, it takes a previous DUI charge before a person can be charged with what is known as “Watson” murder in California. However, prosecutors are beginning to charge DUI murder even against those who have no prior DUIs. The legal definition of 2nd-degree murder, which is the DUI murder charge, is that the person acted with implied malice. That is, that the driver acted with wanton recklessness that they could have reasonably assumed would end in the death or injury of another. If a prosecutor can prove to a jury that an intoxicated driver acted with implied malice and recklessness, the driver may be convicted of murder.

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