In 1981, in the case People v. Watson, the California Supreme Court upheld that a person who drives while intoxicated and kills another person can be charged with murder. Sometimes referred to as Watson murder or DUI murder, it is a second-degree murder charge that carries a penalty of fifteen years to life in state prison. A Watson murder charge normally requires that the accused have a previous DUI. This is because when a person is convicted of DUI, they are advised by either the judge, their probation officer, or in DUI classes that if they drive while intoxicated again and kill someone, they can be charged with murder.
The Modesto Bee reports that in a retrial, a woman has been convicted of murder a second time for a deadly crash.
29-year-old Brenda Barrera was found guilty of murder and driving under the influence of drugs causing great bodily injury in a retrial after the initial verdict was overturned by an appellate court.
The charges stem from a crash that occurred on April 21st, 2015. Barrera was seen driving a black Mercedes entering Black Oak Casino on April 20th at about 7:45 a.m. on the wrong side of the road.
Barrera left the casino property at about 9:15 a.m. She was driving on Highway 120/108 and one driver called 911 to report her erratic driving. Another driver who was following her activated a dashcam and recorded video of Barrera’s vehicle going off-road entirely onto the left shoulder and then crossing back over and striking a vehicle.
That vehicle was being driven by 78-year-old Maxsimiano Aldana, who was killed in the accident. Also in the vehicle were three passengers, who were all seriously injured.
CHP officers noticed signs of intoxication. Barrera’s blood was tested, and she was found to have marijuana and alprazolam in her system.
Barrera is scheduled for sentencing on January 21st.