SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A deaf motorist who drove through a group of spectators watching the "Zombie Walk" parade in San Diego during Comic-Con, seriously injuring one woman, was convicted Wednesday morning of felony reckless driving.
Matthew Pocci, 47, faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 11.
Jurors deliberated a little more than a day before finding the defendant guilty.
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"I'm disappointed. Matthew's extremely disappointed and hurt," defense attorney Ashby Sorensen said after the verdict. "He felt like he was a victim that day and he feels like he's a victim again for simply trying to protect his family."
Pocci testified that he was "very nervous" while waiting for pedestrians to move out of the way near Second and Island as he left the Comic-Con convention with his girlfriend and others on July 26, 2014. The defendant said he started to worry when a crowd surrounded his car and people sat on the hood.
"It's clear that they were very scared there at the end," Sorensen told reporters.
The attorney said Pocci -- who has no prior criminal record -- could get probation at the time of sentencing.
Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna told jurors the defendant stopped for several minutes on Second Avenue, and even turned his engine off for a few moments, before honking his horn "loudly, aggressively" and driving into the group of onlookers.
Jurors saw video footage from three different angles.
Campagna said the fact that Pocci is deaf didn't play much of a role in the crime.
"He acted out of frustration and anger, a human emotion that anyone can feel whether you're deaf or not," the prosecutor said. "I think that what happened here is that he got frustrated. He didn't want to wait any longer and he didn't want to communicate with the people trying to tell him to stop."
Pocci had attended the annual celebration of the popular arts at the San Diego Convention Center as a volunteer assisting deaf attendees, and had just left the center with his girlfriend, her son and her sister.
Campagna said spectators were lined up three-deep along Island Avenue to watch the march of Comic-Con attendees in Halloween-type costumes, including in Gaslamp Quarter intersections. It was clear that a parade was going on and that the defendant would have to wait, he said.
Pocci drove off after running over the woman, causing a serious arm injury. The defendant stopped a couple of blocks later and contacted a police officer.
He was not initially cited, but the District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and in February sent the defendant a letter informing him of the felony charge.
Superior Court Judge Amalia Meza allowed Pocci to remain free pending sentencing.
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