After two days of testimonies, Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett found sufficient evidence to try Matthew Pumar for the death of William Ware.
Barrett also decided to uphold the felony charge against defendant Pumar, 22, for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence—a charge his defense counsel Dennis Smith hoped the judge would have reduced to a misdemeanor. A felony conviction could carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison.
"There's sufficient evidence that a felony has been committed as charged in the complaint for defendant to be held to answer to the charge," said Barrett. The element of gross negligence under CA Penal Code 192(c)(1) is proven if the evidence shows the defendant's behavior, using a reasonable person standard, was reckless and disregarded the safety of others.
In his closing statement of the preliminary hearing Smith proffered that Pumar may not have run the red light at the intersection at Escuela Avenue and California Street, but entered the intersection when the light was still yellow.
Smith further maintained that Pumar's speed may have been as little as 46 miles per hour (mph) in the 35 mph zone—a speed within seven miles of the typical speed of 39 mph at the intersection according to a traffic survey.
Under both scenarios, Smith raised the inconsistencies of witness' statements about the color of the light and also suggested that the vehicle driven by witness Joshua Bailey may have been making an illegal left turn onto southbound Escuela Avenue. If so, this was what caused Pumar to swerve upon entering the intersection with a yellow light.
However, Deputy District Attorney Duffy Magilligan refuted Smith's statements and reminded the judge that Pumar has admitted to flooring the gas pedal and "put his schedule for the day over the safety of the community."
"He accelerated in that high performance vehicle in an intersection with vehicles and pedestrians," said Magillgan. "That's reckless."
The judge agreed.
The only witness this Thursday, Jan. 3 was Mountain View Police Officer Edward Hammon, a traffic officer brought in as an expert in accident reconstruction. He and another officer surveyed the accident .
From his calculations, Hammon found that the car driven by Pumar—a 2004 Audi A4—impacted the area 11 times between the curve at the intersection of California Street and Escuela Avenue and when it came to a rest on the grounds of the Maplewood Apartments at 1885 California St.
Hammon testified that the car traveled 194 feet between those two points; and the pedestrian—in this case William Ware, the third object struck in area of impact—was thrown 156 feet before coming to a rest.
After determining the distance the pedestrian was thrown, Hammon used two difference formulas—INTECH and Searle—to get the approximate speed of the vehicle when Ware was struck and the speed of Ware's body as it traveled after impact.
According to Hammon, Ware's body traveled at a speed between 46 to 60 mph and the calculations assume the body spent half of the time in the air.
From this, Hammon deduced that the car must have been traveling faster because the "pedestrian did not receive all of the energy from the speed of the vehicle."
The defense counsel did not present any witness.
The brother of the deceased Jim Ware shared his relief at the judge's decision.
"The family is relieved to hear that the judge sees the charges as the DA sees it," Ware said. "This is not just any emotional plea by the family. Not a family thinking that it was worse than it is."
"It came from a legal mind that it should proceed as it is."
The arraignment on the new information is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14 at 1:30 p.m. in department 84 at the Santa Clara County, North County Superior Court at 270 Grant Ave. in Palo Alto.
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