Vacaville DUI Driver Charged with Murder
I’m Ed Smith, a Vacaville, personal injury lawyer. A man from Vacaville who allegedly caused a fatal July 2017 collision was scheduled to enter a plea on April 24, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. The man, Thomas J. Astarita, will be tried for the murder of Cynthia Clay after he allegedly caused a fatal accident. Officers have stated that Astarita was under the influence at the time of the crash. The defendant’s lawyer has argued that officers obtained evidence illegally and that the man should not be tried for murder. However, the presiding judge denied the defense’s motion to suppress evidence. The court will reportedly proceed with a second-degree murder trial in coming months.
Police records show that just prior to 6:00 p.m. on the day of the accident, Clay had been driving a Honda sedan east on Marshall Road through the intersection at Nut Tree Road while Astarita, a retired Vacaville carpenter in his 60s, was driving south on Nut Tree in a black-colored GMC SUV. Astarita reportedly drove through the intersection and collided head-on with the driver’s side of the Honda.
Both cars came to rest in the southbound lane of Nut Tree Road. Witnesses later reported to police that Clay had the right-of-way and was using a green light to continue east on Marshall. Clay was found at the accident scene with serious injuries and was taken to a local hospital for emergency care. However, she later lost her life at the hospital.
Judge Carlos R. Gutierrez decided to try Astarita for murder charges shortly after a hearing that took place on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. During the hearing, Gutierrez held up a “Watson Advisement” signed by Astarita nearly five years ago after he was convicted of a prior fatality DUI. The advisement, which stems from a 1981 case in the California Supreme Court, states that a defendant is liable to face a charge of second-degree murder if he or she is determined to have caused a fatal accident again while under the influence of intoxicating substances.
Evidence and Arguments
A Vacaville Police Department (VPD) report stated that Astarita’s blood alcohol content was tested at .20, which is more than double the legal driving limit, directly after the accident. Officers also reported that Astarita confessed to drinking “a few drinks” at a nearby diner around 30 minutes before the crash occurred and that, while being interviewed after the accident, Astarita had watering, red eyes, smelled like alcohol, and exhibited slurred speech patterns.
Astarita’s legal representation argued that officers did not give the defendant a field sobriety test and question whether or not his client was allowed to have legal representation present to review his blood test.
Astarita’s lawyer also noted that Astarita had reported neck pain after the collision and was not in proper condition to give his consent to a blood-alcohol test. The defense also cited the fact that Astarita did not graduate from high school and did not have an attorney present when he signed the Watson Advisement.
More by Ed Smith, Vacaville Personal Injury Lawyer
- Car Accident Fatalities in Vacaville
- What are Personal Injury Attorneys?
- Woman Injured in Vacaville Auto Accident
Vacaville Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Vacaville, personal injury lawyer. Vehicle accidents are often the cause of serious injuries. If you or someone that you care about has received accident trauma, contact (707) 564-1900 for friendly and free case advice. Callers can also use (800) 404-5400 or contact me online on AutoAccident.com. Your consultation by phone or web comes at no charge to you.
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