The Modesto Bee reports that a man was released from jail on a DUI charge and hours later allegedly drove drunk, killing a man.
On October 9, 2014, 37-year-old Rigoberto Ramirez Aleman was released early from jail on a DUI charge.
A few hours after he was released, Aleman drove while intoxicated, ran a red light in downtown Modesto, and killed 38-year-old John Bixby.
On October 24th, after nine days of testimony, a jury convicted Aleman of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and driving without a valid license.
At the time of the accident, Aleman had a blood-alcohol limit of 0.19%. The conviction included an enhancement charge of causing great bodily injury.
Aleman’s attorney argued that malice had not been proven. He argued that his client was suffering from mental illness at the time of the accident. In 2015, Aleman was declared incompetent to stand trial. The court ordered psychiatric treatment to restore competency.
In the previous DUI case, Aleman pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor DUI charge. The judge overseeing the case advised Aleman he could be charged with murder if he continued to drive while intoxicated and killed someone.
Aleman is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on December 12th.
The law attempts to paint a very real and defined difference between the acts of murder and manslaughter. In lay terms, murder is an intentional act. Manslaughter is a death that is the direct result of negligence or carelessness. When it comes to a DUI accident that results in death, prosecutors can choose to charge either, or even both.
DUI murder is a second-degree murder charge and generally requires a previous DUI conviction. This is because as a second-degree murder charge it requires “malice.”