(CBS SF) — A drunk driver found to be at fault for a collision that killed four people and injured at least six more on Interstate Highway 80 in San Pablo in 2017 was found guilty of four counts of murder by a Contra Costa County Superior Court jury on Monday.
Fred Lowe, a 49-year-old Sacramento resident with five prior DUI convictions, could face up to 125 years in state prison when he returns to court for sentencing March 29.
Prosecutors said Lowe’s blood-alcohol content was at 0.14 percent when his blood was drawn hours after the crash, and may have been as high as .24 percent when he was behind the wheel of an eastbound Mercedes-Benz that sideswiped a Nissan Rogue, sending it over the center divide and into westbound traffic around 8:15 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2017.
Daryl Horn, 50, Joseph Horn, 14, Troy Biddle, 52, and Baden Biddle, 12, were all killed. The descendants were all related.
Jared Horn, a University of California at Berkeley student and pitcher on the Cal baseball team, was driving the Rogue and was the only occupant to survive the crash.
Five vehicles were involved in the collision, which left a debris field that spread out for several hundred feet on both sides of the roadway. At least five other injuries were reported.
After causing the collision, prosecutors said Lowe got off the highway and parked his visibly damaged vehicle in a residential area off of San Pablo Dam Road. He was found and arrested nearby later that night.
Based on Lowe’s prior convictions, and that he knew or should have known that driving while intoxicated could pose a danger to the public, prosecutor Derek Butts persuaded the jury to find him guilty of murder. At one point in the trial, he described Lowe as an “extreme offender.”
In closing arguments, deputy public defender Sung Ae Choi questioned the evidence placing Lowe at the wheel of the Mercedes at the time of the crash. She also argued that Lowe had no motive to kill the victims, and that their deaths were not intentional.
Sung also cited the jury’s instructions from Judge John Kennedy to avoid deciding Lowe’s fate by prejudice, which might be difficult given his history of DUI convictions and that he was not licensed to drive at the time of the crash, or by sympathy for the victims, which might also be difficult given the scope of the tragedy.
Ultimately, the jury sided with the prosecution.