It was just yesterday when we said that sometimes, there is no plausible defense to a DUI charge. Today, we see another example of a hard to win case, only this time, there is no plea bargain. Armando Ochoa has taken his case to trial and plans to present a truly unique defense: the arachnoid cyst defense, reports the San Jose Mercury-News.
The day started with beer. To be exact, the previous day never ended, and the entire night was spent drinking. When Ochoa had beer with breakfast, a restaurant manager told him that he was too drunk to drive, reports the Mercury-News. A short time later, he was involved in a road rage dispute, got into another argument with a group of soccer players, and then ran down a few elderly pedestrians.
That was truly a busy morning.
According to the Mercury-News, the road rage incident began when a witness to the eventual accident stopped at a red light. Ochoa pulled up next to him and reportedly gestured "What's up?" to him. He then cut off the witness and served back and forth to keep him from passing. After a couple of close calls, the witness parked on a side street to hide from Ochoa. When he reached the park, he saw his soccer buddies arguing with Ochoa, who then reportedly said, "Wait here ... you'll pay for this."
Ochoa then allegedly pulled his car onto the sidewalk and ran over three elderly pedestrians. Two did not survive.
He has been charged with DUI, murder, and attempted murder. Murder is an intentional killing done with premeditation or malice. The prosecutor is arguing both express and implied malice. The express malice comes from his threat that preceded the crash. The implied malice is the Watson Murder malice that we've previously discussed. A repeat DUI offender can be charged with murder if they were aware of the dangers of drunk driving. Ochoa had four prior DUIs, one hit-and-run accident, and ten speeding tickets, according to the Mercury-News.
As for the defense, his attorney plans on flying in an expert from Norway next week to testify to the side effects of arachnoid cysts and to explain how the cyst could have caused Ochoa's behavior. The defense also highlighted Ochoa's derogatory remarks about Mexicans that were made to witnesses as evidence of the cyst's effects on his state of mind. Ochoa himself is a Mexican immigrant. The cyst was diagnosed before the accident but was not treated because Ochoa was laid off of his job as a painter and lost his insurance.
- Consult a Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Murder Trial Underway in San Jose for Alleged Vehicular Killing (KLIV 1590)
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident/Hit and Run (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
- Irony: Substance Abuse Counselor Charged With DUI, Murder (FindLaw's Los AngelesDUI Blog)