Friday, September 21, 2007

No Parole for 7th California DUI / Murder convict

California DUI criminal defense lawyer news

James Meinecke of Leggett was denied parole at his September 14 hearing at Soledad State Prison. Meinecke was convicted of the 1989 drunk driving murder of Karla Takahashi, 19, and for inflicting such severe injuries to 20-year old Paul Higgins that he remains in a vegetative state.

Despite six drunk driving convictions, convictions for other alcohol related crimes and having just gotten out of jail for driving with a suspended license, Meinecke was heavily intoxicated when he crossed the center line southbound on Highway 101 near Leggett and collided head-on with the car bearing Takahashi and Higgins. Takahashi and Higgins were YMCA camp counselors driving to camp.

Meinecke was one of the first drunk drivers convicted of murder in California.

"This situation was what the law was written for, a kind of perfect storm," says Beth Norman, Mendocino County assistant district attorney, "Meinecke was not supposed to be driving, with all of his prior convictions for drunk driving and other alcohol related crimes. And, his victims were so amazingly innocent."

"At the trial, one of Meinecke's class counselors testified that he was warned that if he continued to drink and drive he would kill someone," Norman added.

The parole board received a number of letters including those opposing Meinecke's release from Representative Mike Thompson, California Highway Patrol Captain Madrigal and YMCA camp directors.