The OC Register reports that a man who has repeatedly been arrested and convicted of DUI now faces 15 years to life in prison after his conviction for a fatal crash in Orange in 2021.
Immediately following the trial, an Orange County jury deliberated for less than three hours and found 40-year-old Sitani Pinomi guilty of murder and several other related charges.
The incident happened on May 19, 2021, when Pinomi slammed his Ford 250 pickup truck into a 19-year-old male pedestrian crossing the street at the intersection of Tustin Street and Helm Avenue in Orange.
The force of the impact threw the victim nearly 200 feet. Several Good Samaritans, including a registered nurse driving near the scene, attempted to help the teen. Despite all life-saving attempts, however, he died a short time later. Eyewitnesses say that Pinomi was distressed and remained at the scene until police arrived.
Pinomi told Orange Police officers who responded to the crash that he had been drinking at a nightclub in Anaheim celebrating his birthday that night. He told them that he had consumed five to seven mixed drinks before he attempted to drive himself home. Pinomi admitted to officers that he had also been speeding at the time of the crash.
A blood alcohol test taken several hours after the collision indicated that Pinomi had a blood alcohol level of .10 percent – above the legal limit of .08 percent.
Los Angeles County Court records indicate that Pinomi pleaded no contest to two previous DUI cases in 2006 and 2007. During the sentencing in the 2007 case, Pinomi was given the Watson Advisement, which is a formal warning that acknowledging that drinking and driving is dangerous and that any future DUI incident resulting in death would mean a murder conviction for him.
Prosecutors argued that even though Pimoni’s prior convictions were more than 14 years ago, he is a repeat DUI offender.
“No one held a gun to his head,” Deputy District Attorney Brian Orue told the jury. “There wasn’t an emergency. He wasn’t saving someone from a burning building. He went out to party.”
Pimoni’s sentencing is scheduled for April 28.