Thursday, February 6, 2003
Appeals Court Upholds 65-Years-to-Life Term for Fatal Drunk Driving
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
A sentence of 65 years to life has been upheld for a Los Angeles man convicted last year of murder for his role in two drug-related fatal automobile crashes in less than two months.
This district’s Court of Appeal rejected the assertion by Michael Anthony Anderson that his conviction was invalidated by a statute that makes evidence of voluntary intoxication inadmissible to show that the defendant acted without the required “conscious disregard for life.”
Penal Code Sec. 22(b) does not deprive the defendant of the federal due process right to present a defense, the court ruled, under the weight of U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
Anderson, 46, was convicted in November 2001 of two counts each of second- degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
“A person who kills another while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be prosecuted for second-degree murder under an implied malice theory,” Justice Paul Coffee wrote in an unpublished decision for Div. Six.
Following a May 11, 2000, crash into a building, an analysis of Anderson’s blood and urine detected PCP, cocaine and a chemical found in marijuana. Passenger Anthony Mark White, 50, of Los Angeles, died in the crash.
Anderson had been arrested and released pending further investigation of that crash when he was involved in another collision on July 8 that year, which killed Grace Attah, 41, of Los Angeles.
A urine sample taken from Anderson 3 1/2 hours after the crash tested positive for PCP, codeine and a chemical found in marijuana, according to the appellate court ruling.
Deputy District Attorney Trish Wilkinson argued at trial that Anderson’s 1988 conviction stemming from a deadly crash had put him “on notice that driving under the influence is dangerous to life.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bob Bowers Jr. sentenced Anderson in January 2002 to 65 years to life in state prison. Two consecutive terms of 15 years to life for second degree murder were doubled under the Three Strikes Law, and a five-year determinate sentence was added for a serious felony enhancement. Sentences on two manslaughter counts were stayed.
Evidence of voluntary intoxication formerly was admissible to negate the subject component of implied malice, but the Legislature in 1995 limited admission of the evidence solely for the purpose of determining whether the defendant harbored express malice. Voluntary intoxication no longer is admissible to negate implied malice.
The case is People v. Anderson, B156884.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company