District attorney won't retry road rage case


Alfred Mark Fournier was convicted last week of gross vehicular manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon causing death or injury, but the jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal on the voluntary manslaughter charge.

Deputy District Attorney Anne Masterson told Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elliot Daum this morning Fournier won't be retried on the voluntary manslaughter charge. Fournier then withdrew his previous plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to the assault with a deadly weapon and gross vehicular manslaughter charges.

Fournier, 51, was charged in connection with the death of motorcyclist Eric Stern, 55 of Monte Rio, on Bohemian Highway in west Sonoma County on July 13, 2004.

The prosecution argued Fournier slowed or stopped his Ford Explorer on the road after a blind curve, causing Stern to collide with it, because he was angry Stern had passed him earlier and wanted to teach him a lesson.

The defense argued Fournier slowed down for safety reasons when he approached the curve after he passed Stern's motorcycle.

Defense attorney Joseph Stogner said Fournier faces a maximum nine years in prison but that he will argue for probation. He said "an untreated psychiatric condition" contributed to the accident and Fournier's reaction to the criminal justice procedures.

"He is now being treated and is an excellent candidate for probation," Stogner said. He said Fournier had "impulse-control difficulties" but has successfully been rehabilitated with medication.

In June 2006, Fournier pleaded no contest to the vehicular and voluntary manslaughter charges in return for probation and a county jail term instead of state prison, but Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau scuttled the plea agreement after hearing from Stern's friends and relatives.

Chouteau agreed Fournier expressed no remorse and took no responsibility for the accident. Stern's supporters told the judge Stern was a careful motorcycle rider and would not have caused an accident.

After the plea agreement fell through, Fournier pleaded not guilty and faced a trial on the charges. He was found incompetent to stand trial, spent time in Napa State Hospital, then was found competent to be tried.

His trial ended July 2. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict on the voluntary manslaughter charge because there was no evidence of a conscious disregard of human life even though they found Fournier acted negligently and was guilty of vehicular manslaughter.

Fournier's sentencing is set for Aug. 27.

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