In the event that a DUI accident leads to the death of another person, the intoxicated driver could find themselves facing murder charges. Typically, DUI-murder, which is a 2nd-degree murder charge, requires a previous DUI conviction where the judge advises the defendant that driving drunk in the future can result in a murder charge. If the defendant has also been to DUI school, a murder charge is also possible. Sometimes, even if these conditions have not been met, a prosecutor will try and convict a person of DUI-murder, particularly in egregious cases of DUI.
The Reporter reports on a DUI-murder trial that has gotten underway in Solano County.
An elderly Vacaville man is facing charges of murder after a summer 2017 crash that claimed the life of a woman.
After two days of jury selection, opening statements began in the trial of 67-year-old Thomas Astarita. Astarita is accused of murder for a July 2017 crash that killed 48-year-old Cynthia Clay.
The attorney for the defense noted a bartender who observed on July 31st that Astarita did not appear to be too intoxicated to drive. He also stated that his client knew only that his airbag had deployed and that his neck was injured. The attorney also said that his client became distraught after learning that Clay had died from her injuries.
The incident occurred on July 31st when Clay was driving east on Marshall Road at the Nut Tree intersection. Astarita was headed south on Nut Tree and drove through the intersection, striking Clay on the driver’s side. Witnesses said that Clay had the green light when the collision occurred.
Despite the fact that Astarita’s blood-alcohol content was above .08%, he has only been charged with murder, not DUI. Astarita has a previous DUI conviction on his record.
If convicted, Astarita faces 25 years to life in prison.