Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a charge that is always a felony in California. As such, it counts as a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” law. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is not “murder” because there is no malice aforethought. However, a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter means that the prosecution believes that they can prove that a person was intoxicated, driving a vehicle, and committed another traffic offense or acted in a way that was not necessarily illegal, but which the person knew could be dangerous. If convicted, the jail time a person faces is 4, 6, or 10 years in state prison.
10 News reports on the trial of a Navy sailor who is charged with multiple offenses for an October 2016 crash that killed four people.
27-year-old Richard Sepolio is facing a total of 13 charges, which include gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI, and reckless driving causing injury. The trial began on January 14th.
The charges stem from an accident on October 15, 2016, in which Sepolio drove through a barrier on a bridge and plunged down to the pavement below. At the time, there was a rally for motorcycle riders occurring. Four people were killed by Sepolio’s falling vehicle. Seven others were injured.
According to the prosecution, Sepolio was driving at 80 m.p.h. when he lost control of the vehicle. His blood-alcohol content was between .08% and .09% at the time of the crash.
One of the first responders said that they could smell alcohol on Sepolio’s breath.
Sepolio’s attorney said that he had passed all tests administered to him by law enforcement. He also said that the blood test that was taken was improperly stored.