DUI murder, sometimes called “Watson” murder, became allowable under California law in 1981 when the California Supreme Court decided that under certain circumstances, killing a person in a DUI accident can be charged as murder. Thankfully, this 2nd-degree murder charge is rare. Most people are charged with either vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Typically, in order to be charged with DUI murder, a previous DUI conviction must have occurred. This DUI conviction need not necessarily take place in California. A previous DUI conviction in another state can lead to a DUI murder charge in California.
The Press-Enterprise reports that the man accused of causing a fatal multi-vehicle accident in Temecula has been charged with murder.
25-year-old Javier Caldera was charged on June 6th with second-degree murder. The charges stem from a deadly crash on the 15 Freeway on June 4th. The crash led to the death of 44-year-old Janet Genao as well as another driver receiving major injuries after the crash caused his vehicle to leave the freeway and crash into a City Hall parking structure.
Caldera is also facing charges of DUI drugs causing injury and hit-and-run causing property damage. The DUI charge also contains the sentence-enhancement of causing major bodily injury.
Deputy District Attorney Allison Pace persuaded Superior Court Judge Stephen J. Gallon to revoke Caldera’s bail of $1 million. The revocation was based on the fear that Caldera would flee or drive a vehicle if released. Caldera allegedly told authorities that he was headed for Mexico the morning of the crash.
According to the District Attorney, Caldera had been driving on a suspended license since 2013. Caldera’s record in Washington State, which included DUI convictions and convictions for evading police led to prosecutors seeking the murder charge.
Caldera’s attorney from the public defender’s office requested to postpone the arraignment, and the judge did so. His next appearance is scheduled for June 18th.