California law allows for a person to be charged with DUI murder if an intoxicated person is involved in an accident that kills another person. DUI murder, sometimes known as Watson murder, is a second-degree murder charge. While this does not mean that the driver intended to kill someone, they acted with implied malice. In other words, the person who drove while intoxicated should have known that driving drunk could lead to the death of another person. The penalties for DUI murder are 15 years to life in state prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and felony offender status.
The Mercury News reports on a man who has pleaded no contest to a murder charge related to a fatal East Bay DUI accident.
42-year-old Jose Amaya-Rivera decided to plead no contest to murder charges just days before his murder trial was set to begin.
The charges stem from a fatal March 23, 2018 crash. The crash happened at about 11:43 p.m. on Willow Pass Road in Concord. Amaya-Rivera was allegedly behind the wheel of a Ford Escape with 21-year-old Yvonne Magaleno as a passenger. Amaya-Rivera then crashed into a Ford Transit. Magdaleno succumbed to the injuries she suffered in a crash and another woman needed to be hospitalized.
Amaya-Rivera has a previous DUI conviction from 2012. While prosecutors waited a few weeks to charge him with DUI murder, California law does allow for a DUI offender to be charged with murder if they have a previous DUI conviction.
Amaya-Rivera will get approximately 500 days of time served credit for days he spent in jail awaiting trial. He was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after he has served 15 years of his sentence.