Suzanne Amelia Carlson is Latest OC Drunken Driver Convicted of Murder

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We just blogged last month about the debate raised by the 60 Minutes report "DWI Deaths: Is It Murder?" in relation to the conviction of Brittany Schuetz, the young Santa Ana woman awaiting sentencing April 30 after being convicted of getting behind the wheel drunk and killing April Whang, 26, of Fullerton.

Obviously, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas advocates murder charges being brought against some drunken drivers who kill, based the Schuetz case, this one and another conviction won in a Westminster courtroom today.

Drunken driver Suzanne Amelia Carlson, 27, of Mission Viejo, was found guilty by a jury of murder in a 2007 collision with an 18-wheel Fed-Ex truck that claimed the life of her passenger.

Carlson, who had been convicted of DUI in 2001 and twice in 2006, blew a .22 percent blood alcohol level--an hour after the crash.

She now faces a maximum of 15 years to life in state prison at her June 11 sentencing on one felony count of murder and one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with prior convictions.

According to the DA's case:

On the night of Jan. 15, 2007, Carlson spent more than two hours consuming alcoholic drinks at a restaurant in Rancho Santa Margarita. The defendant left the restaurant and got into the driver's seat of a 1997 Infiniti sedan, belonging to 55-year-old Scott Turner. The defendant was under the influence of alcohol and driving at unsafe speeds with Turner in the front passenger seat.

At approximately 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, 2007, while driving westbound on California State Route 91, Carlson veered across two lanes and crashed into the back of a Fed-Ex 18-wheel truck. The force of the impact crushed the right side of the victim's car, causing Carlson to lose control and crash into the wall on the side of the freeway. Carlson freed herself from the car by climbing out of the sun roof.

Turner, who was trapped inside the vehicle and had to be removed by firefighters, suffered internal injuries and died shortly after the crash.

Carlson had taken alcohol awareness courses as part of each of her previous DUI convictions. Those instructed her about the dangers of drinking and driving, including the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol can result in killing oneself or others.


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