DUI murder, also known as Watson murder, is one of the rarest DUI charges. It is also the most serious since it is a second-degree murder charge. This means that there was no intent to kill someone, but there was a conscious disregard for the safety of others. Typically, a DUI murder charge requires a previous DUI conviction before a person can be charged. As a punishment for DUI, offenders are often required to serve a period of probation and DUI education classes. They will often be told as a part of the classes or by their probation officer that if they drive drunk again and kill someone, they can be charged with murder.
Fox 5 San Diego reports that the trial against a repeat DUI offender who killed two friends has begun.
26-year-old Ryan Renz is facing charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and other charges. These charges all stem from an accident that occurred on January 25, 2017.
According to prosecutors, Renz had a suspended license and was on probation from a previous DUI charge. He still chose to get behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Jetta owned by 26-year-old Dillon Cody Wiltfong. 23-year-old Johnny Ray Meyer and Wiltfong were passengers in the vehicle when Renz crashed the Jetta into a tree on Buckman Springs Road.
One of the victims was ejected from the vehicle. Another was stuck inside. Renz escaped with minor injuries.
The prosecution also alleges that Renz was driving so fast – between 85 to 96 m.p.h. – that he caught the attention of border patrol, who pursued the vehicle. They were unable to stop the vehicle before the crash. After colliding with the tree, the vehicle then caught fire.
Renz’s defense attorney argues that all three men were intoxicated and made the decision that Renz was the best option as driver.
If convicted, Renz faces up to 30 years to life in prison.