Friday, November 16, 2007

California DUI conviction could lead to rape in prison

A California man will be allowed to complete physical therapy and possibly undergo surgery before he goes to prison for the California DUI crash death of a Vacaville woman in February.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elliot Daum sentenced Peter Lloyd Gilliam Thursday to four years and four months in prison for the California DUI crash that killed 49-year-old Pamela Jarvinen on state Highway 1 on Feb. 17.

The judge denied California criminal defense attorney Hugh Levine's request to keep Gilliam out of California state prison.

"We all know what will happen. He's a gentle, soft, gay man. He'll be raped in prison," Levine said. He asked for a suspended prison sentence and five years probation.

Daum said he is aware of the consequence of a California DUI prison sentence on Gilliam and his lack of a prior record, but he said there needs to be some punishment, retribution and a deterrent.

"This was a horrendous loss of a wonderful human being. That is the focus," Daum said.

The judge however allowed Gilliam to complete physical therapy and further surgery if necessary for the injuries he suffered in the California drunk driving crash.

Gilliam, 51, will return to court Jan. 14 when he will be remanded. He is free on his own recognizance until then.

The California Highway Patrol said Gilliam's southbound 2007 Volkswagen Passat crossed the double yellow lines on a curve in Route 1 and struck Jarvinen's 1998 Ford Windstar minivan near Fort Ross Road.

Jarvinen died in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and her son suffered minor injuries. Her husband, son, sister and brother asked Daum to send Gilliam to California prison.

"This plays out in courtrooms across America every day. There's no deterrent, no accountability. Americans are still going to get slaughtered on the streets of America," her son Steve Knox said.

Deputy District Attorney Robert LaForge said Gilliam's California DUI blood/alcohol level was 0.22 percent 90 minutes after the crash, nearly three times the illegal limit of 0.08 percent. Gilliam claimed he drank a bottle of wine then two glasses of wine later that day but LaForge said if that is all Gilliam drank on Feb. 17 his blood/alcohol limit would be less than 0.22 percent.

LaForge said Gilliam told the California county probation department he didn't feel drunk and Jarvinen's vehicle came into his lane. He said Gilliam has maintained he "made a mistake."

Gilliam told Daum, "On this day I made a horrible judgment call that I will live with every day of my life. It saddens me more than I can say."

Gilliam pleaded no contest in August to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and California DUI. He also admitted his California driving caused death or great bodily injury, caused California felony bodily harm and that he had a California DUI blood/alcohol level above 0.08 percent. Daum stayed a four-year California prison sentence for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

"There was a great deal of reckless conduct," Daum said, noting Gilliam drove too fast for the conditions and circumstances.

California criminal defense attorney Levine argued Gilliam used alcohol over "profound sorrow and loss" of his mother who died the previous October and over his sister-in-law who was dying of cancer.

"This was aberrant, totally out of character, context and historical perspective. This was not him," California criminal defense lawyer Levine said, referring to Gilliam's California DUI accident.