A suspected drink driver accused of swerving off the road and killing a tow truck driver in Tierrasanta was held on $3 million bail at his arraignment Tuesday.
Michael Gilbert Gray, 48, pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations through an attorney. He was booked on charges of suspicion of DUI causing injury or death, fleeing the scene of a crash and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Gray is accused in the death of Fred Griffith, 55, an employee of Road One San Diego, who had gotten out of his truck to tow a disabled garbage truck on the side of the road on the State Route 52 near Mast Boulevard last week.
Prosecutors say Gray chose to drive on the shoulder of the highway because he did not want to wait in traffic, striking Griffith.
The Deputy District Attorney said Gray did not stop after he hit Griffith.
An off-duty CHP officer saw the crash and pulled Gray over.
Gray had a suspended license at the time of the crash, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). His license was suspended on Jan. 10, 2013 and again in the same year on Jan. 17. DMV said it was due to driving with an excessive blood alcohol level.
The Deputy District Attorney said officials also found half a bottle of vodka in his front seat at the time of the crash.
If convicted, this would be Gray's fourth DUI. In 1987, Gray was also charged with several sex crimes, including lewd acts with a child under 14 years of age. He spent five years in prison.
Griffith leaves behind three sons and an extended family. After the arraignment, his eldest son, Michael, had a powerful message for those who may think about getting behind the wheel after a few drinks.
"Don't do it, ever," Michael said. "Drunk driving is murder, just like she said, don't ever, ever, even if you just had a sip, even, get behind the wheel of a car, it's just not the right thing and you're taking innocent lives."
Michael said it would be difficult for him and his brothers to move on without their father. Griffith was a single parent.
"The first thing I thought was oh God, how am I going to tell this to my brothers? I knew that in the end, I would be okay, but I'm just worried about everyone else, so I'm doing my best to watch out for them," he said.
If convicted, Gray faces 30 years to life.