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Testimony Revealed Drinking Before Accident : Driver Gets 8 Years for Manslaughter : Drunken Driver Receives 8 Years for Manslaughter

March 02, 1985

An Orange County judge Friday imposed the maximum prison term allowed, eight years, on a drunken driver convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a 25-year-old UCLA student.

Superior Court Judge William Thomson pronounced the sentence on Jerry James York, 24, of Huntington Beach, who was found guilty Jan. 24 of drunken driving and manslaughter in the Jan. 21, 1984, death of Ha Quoc Vu.

Vu was working on his car on the shoulder of the San Diego Freeway south of the Seal Beach Boulevard exit when York's car struck him.

Trial testimony showed that York had been drinking all the previous evening and on the morning of the accident, which occurred in the early afternoon. York's attorney, Richard Aronson, told the jurors "there's no question that Jerry York was under the influence of alcohol," but argued that his client was guilty of manslaughter at most, not second-degree murder, which the prosecution charged.

Jurors said they had no choice but to find that York was so drunk that he could not have had the malice necessary to be convicted of second-degree murder, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years to life in prison.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Jacobs, who prosecuted the case, said the prison term imposed on York "was a good sentence . . . a fair sentence."

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