SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man who drove drunk and caused a chain-reaction crash that killed a just-retired father of five in Carmel Mountain Ranch last summer was convicted Thursday of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and two DUI charges.
Anthony Guarino, 57, faces up to 13 years in state prison when he is sentenced March 11 for the death of 65-year-old Marc Durham.
“I’m greatly relieved that the jury didn’t buy the excuse of ‘microsleeping,’ because he (Guarino) was drunk,” said Elaine Durham, whose 65-year-old husband, Marc, was killed in the crash.
“He was drunk. He knows he was drunk. We know he was drunk and he killed my husband,” the widow said.
She added that she forgives the defendant, but he has to pay for his actions.
“My heart breaks for his family, because I know that they’re very upset, but they’ll get him back,” Durham told reporters outside the courtroom. “Marc’s gone from this earthly life. And we miss him terribly.”
In his closing argument, defense attorney Brad Patton said his client was unconscious at the time of the crash and should be acquitted of all charges — except for misdemeanor DUI.
“They (prosecutors) have to prove he (Guarino) didn’t drift into a ‘microsleep’ moments before the accident,” Patton told the jury.
The attorney said Guarino’s severe sleep apnea could have brought on the so-called “microsleep” as he approached the intersection of Camino del Norte and Paseo Lucido.
Guarino drifted into a lane and never hit the brakes, Patton said. When talking to paramedics, he had no memory of the accident, his attorney said.
In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer said the defendant admitted he was impaired when he left a bar in National City.
She said Guarino had 11 shots of Jack Daniels whiskey at the bar before driving almost 30 miles to North County.
He was driving 50-60 mph when the crash occurred at an intersection in Carmel Mountain Ranch the evening of Aug. 20, police said.
Durham, who had retired a week earlier from his security job at General Dynamics, died at the crash scene. Five other people — including a 9-year-old boy — were injured.
According to a witness, the defendant’s blood-alcohol level could have been as high as .20 percent that night, the prosecutor said. Guarino’s blood-alcohol was measured at .15 percent about 2 1/2 hours after the 9 p.m. crash.