COURT WATCH: San Francisco Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Vehicular Manslaughter, Adding Second Strike to Record  

San Francisco Hall of Justice – Photo by David M. Greenwald

By Alicia Mayora Olivares 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – After pleading guilty to felony charges of vehicular manslaughter in San Francisco County Superior Court, a man this week collected a second strike on his record and faces up to 17 years in prison for these charges.

Although the accused’s first strike was given in 2009, the San Francisco court upheld the accused’s previous charges. This second strike leaves the accused with one more chance, or he could face 25 years to life in prison if he breaks the law again.

On October 24, SF Judge Michael Rhoads held a preliminary hearing where the accused would enter a plea. Before entering the accused’s plea, Judge Rhoads informed the accused of his rights in court, such as a jury trial, cross-examination of witnesses, and the possible penalty for his charges, which could be up to 17 years in prison. Judge Rhoads made the accused aware that in pleading guilty to these charges he would be giving up these rights.

Judge Rhoads also explained that pleading guilty to these charges would be the second strike on the accused’s record since the first one in 2009. Judge Rhodes explained that if the accused were to be charged with another violent or serious felony, the accused would face 25 years to life in prison.

Represented by attorney Kellin Cooper, the accused, present and in custody, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. The accused faces up to 17 years in prison with a future date set for sentencing.

California’s three strikes law has been a significant topic of discussion regarding the justice system in California. Voted into place in 1994, the three strikes law gives people life sentences if they commit any crime with two prior serious or violent convictions. 

According to the California Innocence Project, the three strikes law intends to deter repeat offenders from committing violent crimes, noting the “three strikes law significantly increases the punishments received by offenders on their third offense if the first two were violent crimes.”

The three strikes law has undergone many changes, but the overall goal of deterring repeat offenders has remained the same. Although reforms have been implemented to alleviate harsh guidelines—such as giving someone a life sentence for a misdemeanor non-violent crime—the three strikes law continues. 

This law, in particular, has disproportionately affected communities of color, specifically African Americans, according to Stanford Law School, which noted more than 45 percent of inmates involved in this law in California have been African Americans, and it also negatively affects people with mental health issues.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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