REDWOOD CITY (CBS SF) – A Burlingame man was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder for a fatal drunk driving crash in 2009, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
Jurors returned a verdict at the end of the 20-day trial that Bruce Alan Walker, Jr., 38, acted with malice or intentional disregard for human life when he drove his 2006 silver Infiniti while drunk on April 11, 2009.
Walker crashed his car on El Camino Real near Howard Avenue in San Carlos at 9:53 p.m. that night, hitting a curb and skidding across four lanes of traffic before the car hit a tree and rolled over onto its roof, killing Walker’s passenger, his best friend, 36-year-old Daniel White.
Walker was partially ejected from the car, and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital suffering from broken ribs and bleeding lungs, Deputy District Attorney Joe Cannon said during the trial.
Cannon said a blood sample was taken from Walker while he was sedated in the hospital on the night of the crash after Burlingame police officers smelled alcohol on Walker’s breath.
Defense attorney Joseph Carr argued in September that the blood sample taken from Walker was mishandled by investigators because the officer who took the sample carried it in her uniform for 10 hours before turning it over to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office for analysis.
He said that the mishandling of the sample was in violation of procedures established by the state, and called the integrity of the sample into question.
Cannon said that this did not affect the outcome of the test, which showed that Walker’s blood contained traces of cocaine and a blood alcohol content of .20 percent, two-and-a-half times the legal limit.
Walker was previously convicted in April of vehicular manslaughter for the crash, but the jury in that trial was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of second-degree murder, leading the district attorney’s office to retry Walker on those charges.
Prosecutors argued that Walker clearly knew that driving under the influence of alcohol could result in loss of life, based on information the defendant received in first-offender DUI classes he was required to complete after being arrested for drunk driving in San Mateo County in 1997 and 2001.
Walker faces a mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 16.
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