When a DUI accident results in a fatality, the driver is typically charged with either vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Both charges are different from a murder charge in that the driver did not intend to kill another person. However, in the case of gross vehicular manslaughter, while driving under the influence, the driver also acted in a way that demonstrated gross negligence. This could mean that the driver was speeding or driving in an otherwise negligent manner. In order to convict a person of gross vehicular manslaughter, the prosecutor must prove that a driver was drunk, broke a law that could cause death, did so with a reckless disregard for safety, and the negligent act was directly responsible for someone’s death.
The Coronado Patch reports on the conviction of a Navy man who was charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Last Wednesday, a jury convicted 27-year-old Richard Sepolio of four charges of vehicular manslaughter causing injury as well as DUI causing injury.
The charges stem from an October 15, 2016 accident in which Sepolio drove off of a bridge and plummeted into a park where a festival was taking place. According to the prosecution, Sepolio was driving recklessly and arguing with his girlfriend on his cell phone.
Sepolio denied being on the phone with his girlfriend but did admit to drinking a bottle of alcoholic cider and a glass of wine at lunch before driving.
The jury convicted Sepolio of four gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated charges, seven counts of reckless driving, and one count of driving over the legal limit causing injury.
Sentencing is scheduled for April 2. Sepolio faces up to 18 years in prison.