In a 1980s California Supreme Court case, the court decided DUIs could be charged as murder in certain circumstances. Known as “Watson” murder, it is a second-degree murder charge. Typically, prosecutors only charge DUI as murder if the suspect has a previous DUI on their record, however, that is not a requirement. The penalties for DUI murder include 15 years to life in prison and the conviction counts as a strike under California’s “three strikes” system.
SF Gate reports on closing arguments in a DUI murder case.
Closing arguments were delivered by attorneys on Thursday in a trial of a man suspected of murder. The charges stem from a hit-and-run suspected DUI accident on State Highway 4 that claimed the life of two children in Concord. The crash occurred two years ago.
Lemuel Wilson, who is now 36-years-old was allegedly behind the wheel of a vehicle when it veered off the Solano Way exit ramp on June 30, 2017.
Wilson’s vehicle rear-ended a Dodge Durango as he veered off the ramp. Inside the Dodge was a family that included 5-year-old Vincent Reyes-Rothberg and 10-year-old Lorenzo Reyes. Both children died in the accident.
Their mother and a third child were taken to the hospital with injuries.
Wilson was also injured, but he fled the scene on foot and sought treatment for his injuries the next day at a hospital. Police allegedly found an open container in the vehicle Wilson was allegedly driving.
The next day, when police arrested Wilson, there was no evidence of alcohol in his system. Police also did not check the open container for fingerprints, Wilson’s defense attorney argued.
Wilson has a previous DUI on his record. He is charged with two counts of murder, driving under the influence and causing injury within 10 years of a previous DUI offense, and leaving the scene of an accident.