SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A motorist who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and marijuana when he accelerated onto a freeway transition ramp and flipped his SUV, killing three of five passengers, was ordered Thursday to stand trial on murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges.
William Cady, 25, faces up to 45 years to life in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Makenzie Harvey.
Judge Lorna Alksne found that enough evidence was presented during a two-day preliminary hearing for Cady to proceed to trial on seven felony charges. A tentative Nov. 10 trial date was set.
According to testimony, Cady had a blood-alcohol content between .13 and .19 percent at the time of the crash, which happened about 11:15 p.m. on Jan. 10. Cady also had marijuana in his system based on a blood test three hours after the crash, Harvey said.
The prosecutor said Cady had a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction from 2009 in which he was ordered to spend a year in a drug treatment program as a condition of probation. The defendant also has a similar misdemeanor conviction from 2011 in which two years of custody was suspended and he was ordered to abstain from alcohol.
Harvey told the judge today that the defendant drank over an extended period of time and also smoked marijuana the day of the crash.
Based on his past, Cady knew the dangers of drinking and driving and consciously disregarded the lives of his passengers as the designated driver, Harvey said.
"The defendant was the captain of the ship that night," the prosecutor told the judge.
One of the passengers in Cady's SUV, Trevor Rodgers, testified Wednesday that Cady was going too fast and sped up and laughed when all five passengers asked him to slow down just before he lost control of the SUV.
Rodgers, 26, testified that Cady acted "really irrational" and "psychotic" when the passengers in the defendant's 2000 Cadillac Escalade asked him to slow down as he made the transition from northbound Interstate 805 to westbound state Route 52.
"He (Cady) said,"I'll drive this (expletive) car however the (expletive) I want," Rodgers said, adding that he didn't think Cady grasped the severity of the situation. The witness testified that he thought Cady drove the car as fast as it would go.
The next thing he knew, Rodgers said, the vehicle was going sideways, everything went dark and he woke up in a hospital.
Rodgers, who was not wearing a seatbelt that night, was treated for a broken jaw, leg, pelvis and ankle, and facial lacerations.
Harvey said the SUV flipped at least five times, ejecting four passengers.
California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Clinkscales testified that he visited Cady in the hospital on Jan. 13 and left a digital recorder in the room after the patient declined to talk to him.
On the tape, Cady was heard saying he couldn't believe he killed three people and that he would surely spend many years in prison, the officer said.
"Oh my God, my life is over," Cady said on the recording. "I've done it to myself. Why? I'm a bad person. I hate cars. Cars are no good."
According to court testimony, the defendant and five companions were drinking at a friend's house, then at a bar in Clairemont Mesa in the hours before the crash.
A bartender eventually told the group that they were in no condition to drive and gave them resources to take a cab home. But one of the men bought whiskey at a grocery store, then the group made its way to a second bar and were kicked out of that establishment for being too rowdy, according to testimony.
As Cady drove toward Rodgers' home, the defendant lost control of the SUV, causing it to veer off the road and overturn, according to the CHP. Three other vehicles following the SUV then crashed, as well.
Four of the five men riding in the Escalade were hurled out as it rolled side-to-side several times. Two of them -- Taylor Bednarski, 29, and Shon Gilliam, 23, both of San Diego -- died at the scene.
A third passenger, 35-year-old Jeffery Becker of Kern County, died in the crumpled vehicle. He was the only person in the SUV wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, according to the Highway Patrol.
Paramedics took Cady and the surviving passengers to hospitals for treatment of serious trauma. Two other motorists involved in the chain-reaction accidents were treated for minor injuries.
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