An Arcadia man, Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, was convicted by a jury of vehicular manslaughter and DUI after he drove through a freeway closure and hit a road worker last year. The worker died from his injuries and Sakamoto was found by police to have a blood-alcohol level above .08%. Though he was convicted for DUI and manslaughter, the jury could not reach a decision when it came to his other charges of second degree murder.
Murder charges are some of the most serious offenses and result in life in prison. This kind of sentence for a DUI accident may seem too harsh to some people. That is why the jury became deadlocked and could not reach a verdict when it came to the second degree murder charge.
District Attorneys in California are not afraid to add second degree murder charges to a suspect who has taken a life due to impaired driving. A driver in Coachella was recently charged with murder with malice, gross vehicular manslaughter, two counts of felony DUI and two counts of misdemeanor DUI after striking two pedestrians while drunk.
The law for murder involves the unlawful killing of another person, even if it is unintentional, if a disregard for safety was displayed. A DUI that leads to death has been found to meet these requirements, so legally a DUI driver that kills another person may be guilty of murder. However, many feel that it is too harsh of a sentence for a drunk driver.
Some people, such as the victims' families feel that murder charges are fair and drunk drivers deserve the maximum penalties when they take a life. There is no way to know for sure how Sakamoto's case will turn out and prosecutors are going to meet again on December 2nd to decide if the murder trial needs to be re-tried.