California has a law that concerns what charges a person may face if they already have a DUI on their record and are involved in a second DUI that claims a life. In such cases, that person may be charged with what is known as a ‘Watson’ murder. The term comes from a court case where a precedent was set to charge an intoxicated driver with murder. However, just because there is such a charge does not automatically guarantee that a person will face that charge. ABC 7 News reports on the family of a 3-year-old killed in a crash that claims the sentence was an injustice.
40-year-old Yarenit Malihan had another DUI charge pending when she crashed her SUV into a car that had stalled on Interstate 680 in San Ramon. She was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash and was out on bail with a previous DUI pending.
The collision, which occurred in September 2016, killed 3-year-old Elijah Dunn, injured his mother, and caused two other children to become emotionally scarred.
Last month, Malihan pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree manslaughter. The charge, according to the District Attorney’s office, was based upon evidence.
Malihan was sentenced to seven years, but due to already being in custody, she will get credit for time served. She can be out of prison as early as 2020.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office said that Malihan’s marriage to an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy had nothing to do with the charges or the sentencing.
After the crash, Malihan was arrested on a separate charge of public intoxication.
The family of Elijah Dunn plans to lobby for a change in drunk driving laws.