In California, an accident in which a person was driving under the influence that also happens to claim another life can be charged as murder in certain circumstances. Those circumstances include if the allegedly drunken driver has a previous conviction for DUI, which usually requires driving classes as a penalty. The driver could have also been asked to sign what is called a Watson Acknowledgement, which indicates their understanding that if they drive drunk again and someone is killed, they may face murder charges. The San Diego Union Tribune reports on the second trial of a man accused of DUI murder.
Neither Steven Quintero nor his public defender dispute that Quintero was drinking before he got behind the wheel of a car and then hit and killed a Lyft driver.
The accident occurred along State Route 94 in 2016.
In April, Quintero was tried and a jury convicted him of felony driving under the influence and felony hit and run.
The jury, however, could not come to an agreement on the two most serious charges of DUI murder and vehicular manslaughter.
The retrial began in San Diego County Superior Court last Thursday, with both the defense attorneys and attorneys for the prosecution asking the same thing: was the death of 41-year-old Henry Reyes murder?
District attorneys argue that because of a previous DUI conviction, Quintero knew better than to get behind the wheel while intoxicated on October 1, 2016.
However, his public defender Susan Gerard argued that Quintero has suffered from severe learning disabilities his entire life, whichmeansn that he could not have formed a clear connection between the drinking and driving and the possible consequences.
However, after the fatal crash, a police officer allegedly asked Quintero if he knew what could happen if he got behind the wheel intoxicated.
“An accident, someone could get killed,” Quintero replied, according to the district attorney.