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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The murder-manslaughter line in the news: conviction in Adenhart case

The Associated Press reports on today's conviction of the drunk driver who killed three people, including a pitcher for a major-league baseball team:

Prosecutors said they charged the case as a second-degree murder instead of the lesser charge of manslaughter because Gallo had a previous DUI conviction, had specific knowledge of the dangers of drinking and driving from his own experience and had signed a court form from the earlier case saying he understood he could be charged with murder if he drove drunk again and killed someone.

To win a murder conviction, prosecutors had to show Gallo acted with implied malice: intentionally drove drunk; acted with a conscious disregard for human life; and knew from his personal experience that he could kill someone.

. . .

Prosecutors had alleged in the two-week trial that Gallo, whose blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit, spent hours drinking beers and shots with his stepbrother at three different bars before running a red light and T-boning the car driven by Stewart.

Prosecutor Susan Price told jurors during her closing argument that Gallo . . . had been repeatedly warned by friends, family and court officials about the dangers of drinking and driving, but his arrogance and need to party prevented him from learning the lesson.

Gallo's attorney said her client believed his stepbrother was his designated driver and only drove after his stepbrother became too intoxicated and asked him to take the wheel. By that point, Goodman argued, Gallo was too drunk to realize the consequences of driving drunk.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2010/09/the-murder-manslaughter-line-in-the-news-conviction-in-adenhart-case.html

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