A state appeals court in San Francisco today upheld a second-degree murder conviction and sentence of 43 years to life in prison for a Windsor man who killed a motorist in a drunken driving accident.
Arnold Silva, 47, had five previous drunken driving convictions and had been warned by a bartender and two bar patrons not to drive before the crash that killed Marian Tumbaga, 39, of Ukiah, on U.S. Highway 101 near Windsor on Jan. 9, 2006.
He was convicted in Sonoma County Superior Court in 2007 of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Judge Rene Chouteau sentenced him to 43 years to life in prison, including 30 years for the second-degree murder and 13 years for fleeing the scene of the accident.
In today’s ruling, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal unanimously said “there was overwhelming evidence of appellant’s knowledge of the dangerous and potentially lethal consequences of drinking and driving.”
The court rejected Silva’s appeal arguments that the jury should not have been told of statements he made to police after being arrested and should not have been shown pictures of the victim’s body.
According to trial testimony, Silva had become intoxicated on the evening of the accident through several hours of drinking at the Wagon Wheel Bar.
After a patron and a bartender told him he should not drive, and a second patron unsuccessfully tried to stop him from getting into his Chevrolet Suburban, Silva drove onto the highway and crashed into the back of Tumbaga’s Ford Escort.
Tumbaga was thrown from her car, which rolled over and crushed her. Silva fled on foot and was arrested the next day.
Prosecutors based the murder charge on their claim that Silva was aware of but disregarded the risk that he could kill someone if he drove while intoxicated. In addition to sustaining five previous convictions, Silva had attended a 15-week program on the dangers of drunken driving.