If Drunk Drivers Who Kill Face Murder Charges, Why Not Charge City Councilman With Attempted Murder?
Sunday night, 60 Minutes replayed "DWI: Was It Murder?" Reporter Bob Simon interviewed a prosecutor who pursues murder charges against drunken drivers whose traffic collisions result in deaths of people in the other vehicles. Nassau County, New York, district attorney Kathleen Rice's first successful prosecution against just such a drunken driver resulted in a second-degree murder conviction and sentence of 18 years to life in prison against a 24-year-old insurance salesman with no previous arrests.
At least Andrew Thomas Gallo, the 22-year-old tentatively set to stand trial in Santa Ana Superior Court November 9 on triple murder charges related to an April 9 collision in Fullerton, has previous DUIs and apparently was not supposed to be behind the wheel. The San Gabriel resident allegedly drove his minivan while intoxicated through a red light, broadsiding a Mitsubishi Eclipse. The driver, Cal State Fullerton student Courtney Stewart, 20, and passengers Nick Adenhart, a 22-year-old Angels pitcher, and Henry Pearson, a 25-year-old law student, were killed. Passenger and former Cal State Fullerton Titan catcher Jon Wilhite, 24, was seriously injured.
A few hours after the 60 Minutes report aired on the West Coast, Westminster City Councilman Andy Quach allegedly drove his Mercedes-Benz into a vehicle with three passengers inside before continuing on and slamming into a power pole, knocking out electricity for up to 12 1/2 hours for 300 households.
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The Orange County District Attorney's Office later revealed Quach had a blood alcohol level of 0.26 percent, which is more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent. He was charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08 percent, and an enhancement for having a blood alcohol over 0.20 percent while driving.
But applying the logic used to charge drunken drivers with murder, why not hold Quach up on attempted murder when he faces the music Sept. 2 at the West Justice Center in Westminster?
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