Local News

Tuesday, Feb 25 2014 03:49 PM

Four-year sentence for drunken driver who struck and killed pedestrian

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Prosecutors say a combination of street racing and alcohol killed a pedestrian in August. Tuesday, that resulted in a 4-year stint in prison for motorist Guadalupe Reyes-Inzunza.

Judge Steven M. Katz sentenced Reyes-Inzunza in a plea deal in which the 31-year-old pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Two charges of DUI causing bodily injury were dismissed.

Thomas Johnston, Reyes-Inzunza's attorney, said there were some mitigating circumstances in this "horrible case." He said while Reyes-Inzunza was intoxicated when the crash occurred, the pedestrian he struck had been jaywalking.

"The first thing my client saw was a body on his windshield," Johnston said.

His client did the right thing, Johnston said, by turning around and returning to the scene of the crash to find out what had happened. The vehicle he was passing when he hit 56-year-old Timothy Jerome Murphy continued on its way and has not been located.

Johnston said it's possible that other vehicle hit the pedestrian before Reyes-Inzunza did.

The attorney denied Reyes-Inzunza was street racing. He said his client was traveling about 45 mph and passing another vehicle when he struck Murphy.

Prosecutor Jim Simson said that's not the case. Other motorists reported Reyes-Inzunza's 2002 BMW 525i and the second vehicle traveling at "an extremely high rate of speed." He also said Murphy was not technically jaywalking because he crossed between two intersections, neither one of which had a crosswalk.

Simson said the deal was offered because he and others believed four years is the sentence Reyes-Inzunza would have received if they'd gone to trial.

"In a situation like this where a life is taken we want to take that person off the street for as long as possible," he said.

On Aug. 8, Reyes-Inzunza and the other motorist were driving north on Oswell Street approaching Lake Street at 8:25 p.m., California Highway Patrol officers said. They said Reyes-Inzunza was going so fast Murphy never had a chance to get out of the road.

Murphy was struck and died at the intersection of Oswell and Niles streets.

Reyes-Inzunza has a previous drunken driving conviction stemming from a 2006 arrest. In that incident, he pleaded guilty to DUI and driving without a license, according to court records.

Anyone with information about the other vehicle believed to be racing in this incident is asked to call the local CHP at 864-4444.

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