San Diego

Navy Petty Officer Faces Lighter Prison Sentence After Judge's Ruling

Jurors convicted Richard Anthony Sepolio in February of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

A U.S. Navy petty officer convicted in February of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated faces less prison time after a judge's ruling Tuesday. 

Richard Anthony Sepolio drove his pickup truck off the Coronado Bay Bridge on Oct. 15, 2016 and crashed into Chicano Park, killing four people and injuring several others.

Jurors found Sepolio guilty of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing injury. At the time, prosecutors said the defendant faced a maximum of 18 years behind bars. 

On Tuesday, Judge Charles Rogers considered whether the defendant could be convicted of both a greater crime and its lesser offense. 

After hearing from both sides, Rogers decided Sepolio could be sentenced on both the DUI causing injury charge and the ordinary negligence manslaughter while intoxicated charge because there were victims in the crash who were not killed.

Rogers dismissed great bodily injury allegations that the jury found true which lowered the maximum prison term to 9 years, 8 months.

Also, Sepolio will earn half of credit for time served because the vehicular manslaughter with intoxication is not considered a violent felony, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office. 

Cruz Elias Contreras, 52; AnnaMarie Contreras, 50; Andre Christopher Banks, 49 and Francine Denise Jimenez, 46 died as a result of the collision. 

Prosecutors allege Sepolio was driving 81 miles per hour four seconds before his car left the bridge and crashed 60 feet below into a crowded Chicano Park. 

An expert testified the pickup's brakes were activated one second before the pickup collided with a barricade on the bridge.

Sepolio who suffered serious injuries to his back, ribs, and hands in the crash, testified that he was not drunk or on his phone when he was speeding while trying to pass another vehicle right before the crash.

Sepolio's injuries prevented officials from performing an accurate breathalyzer test and that blood drawn later provided a more accurate measurement.

An hour after the initial tests, a blood sample was drawn and Sepolio's BAC was measured at .08.

Sepolio's defense attorney Paul Pfingst told jurors during the trial that several tests administered by law enforcement officials put Sepolio below the .08 blood alcohol level limit. 

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