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Driver In Deadly East Palo Alto Chase To Face Murder Charge

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Scene of fatal motorcycle crash in East Palo Alto, September 28, 2011. (CBS)

Scene of fatal motorcycle crash in East Palo Alto, September 28, 2011. (CBS)

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EAST PALO ALTO (CBS SF) – A driver who struck and killed a motorcyclist in East Palo Alto on Wednesday morning while fleeing police was scheduled to be charged Friday with murder, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Eric Banford, a 46-year-old East Palo Alto resident, will be charged with second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter, felony evading a police officer and felony hit-and-run, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Banford also has two prior strikes for felony convictions. He was convicted of manslaughter in 1991, and of robbery in 1987, Wagstaffe said.

The murder charge was justified, in part, Wagstaffe said, by the act that Banford was allegedly using drugs at the time of the crash, which killed East Palo Alto resident Danny Lee Dixon.

Banford was allegedly trying to evade police when the Land Rover he was driving struck Dixon’s motorcycle at Bay Road and University Avenue at 5:25 a.m., according to police. Dixon, 50, was declared dead at the scene.

The incident was the first of two fatal crashes in East Palo Alto on Wednesday.

Six-year-old Sioreli Torres was struck and killed in a crosswalk on Bay Road at Gloria Way shortly after 8 a.m. by a car driven by teacher Alisha Whiteparker.

Wagstaffe said police were still investigating that incident, and would turn it over to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office for review to determine if any charges were appropriate.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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