Prosecutor: Defendant's decision to drink and drive led to crash - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Prosecutor: Defendant's decision to drink and drive led to crash that killed Rancho Bernardo man

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Anthony Guarino Anthony Guarino

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man's decision to drink and drive led to a chain-reaction crash that killed a just-retired Rancho Bernardo resident and injured five others, a prosecutor said Tuesday, but a defense attorney said sleep apnea caused his client to lose consciousness and black out just before the fatal collision.

In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer told jurors 57-year-old Anthony Guarino admitted after the crash that alcohol affected his driving the night of Aug. 20.

Guarino's blood-alcohol level was measured at .15 percent 2 1/2 hours after last summer's crash, and was probably between .17 and .20 percent at the time of the collision that took the life of 65-year-old Marc William Durham, the prosecutor said.

Durham, a movie buff, had been retired for just one week and was on his way to see a film when he was killed around 9 p.m., the prosecutor said.

The defendant told investigators that he had been drinking Jack Daniels whiskey at a bar in National City, Konstanzer told the jury.

When asked how much he had to drink before he began to drive home, Guarino said "a few" and also told a doctor in a hospital emergency room that he had at least five drinks, the prosecutor said.

Guarino never mentioned sleep apnea when a police officer asked him if he was being treated for any medical problems, Konstanzer said.

Witness Kathleen MacKenzie testified that she was waiting to turn left from Paseo Lucido onto Camino del Norte when she noticed a dark-colored car coming down the hill that "wasn't slowing down."

"It was going fast," the witness said. "It just smashed into this other car."

Police said Guarino was going about 50-60 mph in his black BMW when his car struck the left rear of Durham's Toyota Corolla.

The initial collision set off a chain-reaction crash involving four other vehicles that left five people hurt, including an 8-year-old boy who complained of neck and back pain.

Defense attorney Brad Patton said Guarino served 20 years in the Marine Corps before working in the insurance industry.

The father of two was diagnosed last year with severe sleep apnea, Patton said. One of the side effects of the disease is called "micro-sleep," where a person loses consciousness, the defense attorney said.

When Guarino came to the intersection of Camino del Norte and Paseo Lucido, it was his intention to turn left toward his home, but he went into a "micro-sleep" and drifted into the turn lane, never applying the brakes, Patton told the jury.

Patton said charges of driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher might be appropriate, but a more serious charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated might not be.

Guarino is also charged with DUI causing injury. He faces up to 13 years in prison if convicted.


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