Man pleads no contest to killing pedestrian

September 9, 2010 1:54:29 PM PDT
An Alameda man pleaded no contest today to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for killing a 78-year-old man with his sport utility vehicle on a sidewalk in Alameda two years ago.

Dionisio Molina, 38, entered his plea for the death of George Marceline on July 5, 2008, two days after jurors acquitted him of first-degree murder and deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquitting him of second-degree murder after about a week of deliberations.

On Aug. 27, shortly after they began deliberating, jurors convicted Molina of two counts of battery for attacking two Alameda police detectives during an interrogation four days after he killed Marceline.

Molina's lawyer, David Billingsley, didn't challenge those charges. But on Aug. 31, jurors found him not guilty of attempted murder for almost hitting a woman shortly after he struck and killed Marceline.

Molina faces a term of 11 years in state prison when he's sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta on Nov. 19.

Billingsley admitted in his closing argument two weeks ago that Molina ran over Marceline with his Jeep Grand Cherokee in the 2000 block of Shoreline Drive, which runs along the San Francisco Bay, at about 5:30 a.m. on July 5, 2008, and almost hit a woman shortly after.

But the defense lawyer said Molina should only be convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Marceline's death and should be acquitted of the attempted murder charge.

Billingsley argued that his client was not conscious at the time of the accident and wasn't in control of his actions.

He said Molina "was operating in a state of altered consciousness" because he had suffered from some kind of brain trauma caused by his wife about 10 days earlier when she hit him twice on the head with a wooden box during a fight.

Billingsley said those blows -- plus previous use of a sleep-aid drug and stress from losing his job and financial problems -- put Molina in a state where he didn't have control of his actions.

But prosecutor Annie Saadi told jurors that Molina should be convicted of murder, alleging that he set out to hurt people because he was mad at the world on the morning of July 5, 2008, due to marital problems and other issues.

She told jurors that Molina "obviously had problems in his life, and you might feel sorry for him."

But "we all have problems," she said, and instead of getting help by going to a therapist or talking to friends, Molina "took his rage out on completely innocent strangers."


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