Cyclist Killed in Pleasanton – Twitter Feed Used as Evidence (CA Penal Code 192(c))

19-year-old man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused) spends a lot of time devoted to pursuits on social media.  There was one thing, however, that he couldn’t have foreseen and that’s that his Twitter feed would be used as evidence against him in court.  On June 9th of last year, 58-year-old Dublin woman and her husband were struck by his vehicle as they made their way down Foothill road near Golden Eagle Way. She was killed, while her husband sustained other injuries.

The interesting thing about this case, however, is not that he was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter, but that prosecutors attempted to try him for murder.  What made them think that this was a wise idea and that this charge would fly with a county judge?  It was the fact that he had bragged to several that he liked to drive fast and that he had done so in a public arena (Twitter).  As it turns out, he pled no contest to the charges and a judge determined that murder charges were too harsh, reducing them back down to vehicular manslaughter.

In California, the crime of vehicular manslaughter is divided into two separate categories:  one involving an intoxicated driver and those that do not. He will be sentenced according to (CA Penal Code 192(c)) as he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the crash occurred.  This particular crime is considered a ‘wobbler,’ meaning that it may be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor.  If he were convicted of a misdemeanor violation, then he would be looking at a maximum 1-year sentence in county jail.  However, as he has been convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter, it looks as if he may spend 9 years in state prison, only 1 year shy of the maximum 10-year penalty.