Victim’s Family Members Deliver Victim Impact Statements Before Sentencing in Bizarre DUI Murder – PD Asks Judge to Step Down

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By Sahaily Zazueta

DUBLIN, CA- The family members of the victim of a DUI-related crash delivered their victim impact statements during the sentencing hearing for Tyler Underwood here late last week at Alameda County Superior Court’s East County Hall of Justice.

See Vanguard earlier story: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2021/11/attorneys-make-final-statements-before-jury-deliberations-in-underwood-dui-murder-trial/

Underwood was convicted by a jury in Nov. 2021 on several felony charges, including second-degree murder for the death of victim Darren Walker. On the night of Oct. 9, 2018, Underwood crashed while driving under the influence at over 100 miles per hour with his young daughter and the victim in the car. The crash resulted in Walker’s death, who wasn’t found until the next day.

The hearing began in the afternoon with Deputy Public Defender Michael Wu requesting the court to not impose a life sentence. PD Wu stated that the victim’s death was an accident, and Underwood did not intend to cause the victim’s death.

PD Wu told the court that Underwood’s actions were “fueled by addiction” and an alcohol abuse problem, adding the criminal justice system uses incarceration as a solution to crime in most criminal cases, rather than treating the underlying causes of an offender’s behaviors. PD Wu suggested that treatment would be a more just approach in punishing Underwood.

PD Wu asked the court for a sentence of nine years, considering that Underwood’s criminal record only includes misdemeanor convictions and does not show a pattern of violent behavior.

When addressing the court, PD Wu also raised the issue of Judge David Pereda’s relationship to an employee of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. PD Wu stated that the defense was unaware that Judge Pereda was romantically involved with a member of the DA’s office while overseeing Underwood’s trial, and stated that a new trial was warranted.

Deputy District Attorney Abigail Mulvihill argued that Judge Pereda’s relationship did not have any impact on Underwood’s trial because the member of the DA’s office had no connection to Underwood’s case.

Judge Pereda denied PD Wu’s motion for a new trial.

DDA Mulvihill then introduced the victim’s family members. Judge Pereda allowed them to address the court and Underwood with their victim impact statements.

The victim’s family members all expressed a lack of forgiveness for Underwood and described how the loss of Walker had caused significant distress in all of their lives . They stated that Underwood was not a friend to the victim as Underwood had claimed throughout the trial.

The victim’s grandmother said “society will not be safe with [Underwood] behind the wheel of a car.”

The victim’s aunt admonished the behavior of the defense and Underwood throughout the course of the trial. She noted that in her career as a court reporter for more than 30 years, she had never seen such unprofessional behavior from a defense team.

The victim’s aunt said the way the defense treated the victim’s mother by attempting to exclude her from important hearings and smiling at each other at certain points during the trial was very disrespectful.

The victim’s cousin spoke directly to Underwood and declared she “hates” him and hopes he “never gets to see [his] daughter grow up.”

The victim’s mother described the psychological pain she has endured throughout the trial and the mental health diagnoses she has received in the aftermath of her son’s death.

When the family members had finished delivering their statements, Underwood addressed them with a brief statement.

Underwood told the victim’s family that he is very sorry for the pain he has caused them and “pray[s] every night” that their hurt can be healed. Underwood maintained that he was friends with the victim, and is very sorry that he is gone.

Judge Pereda’s final sentencing will be held March 11.

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About The Author

Sahaily is a senior undergraduate student at California State University Long Beach, majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Human Development. She aspires to become a public defender.

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