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Father of Boy Who Died in Crash to Face Murder Trial

August 25, 1994|JEANNETTE REGALADO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VAN NUYS — A North Hollywood man was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on a charge of second-degree murder for allegedly killing his 5-year-old son while driving drunk.

Pedro Guzman, 34, is also charged with injuring another person while driving drunk and driving with a blood alcohol level of over .08. The charges stem from a May 7 accident at Riverton Avenue and Arminta Street that took the life of his son, William.

At a preliminary hearing in Van Nuys Municipal Court, police testified that witnesses indicated that Guzman had been drinking at his house before he and a friend took his son on a beer run.

William Guzman, who was not wearing a seat belt, died of massive head injuries when his father's car collided with an auto driven by Gilbert Ramirez, 24, of Sun Valley, who was subsequently convicted of vehicular manslaughter and also of drunk driving.

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Ronald A. Vega testified that when he arrived at the site of the 6:30 p.m. crash, he found "a small bundle of blankets just behind a tree. Underneath . . . was a small child who had met his demise."

Witnesses testified that Guzman picked up his son from the rear seat of the car and cried, "I've killed my son, I've killed my son." Witnesses persuaded him to lay the child on the grass so CPR could be performed, but it was too late.

Prosecutors said Guzman, who had two drunk driving convictions, knew the consequences of driving under the influence because he had attended drunk drivers school as part of his sentence.

"He said he knew what would happen if you drink and drive," said Vega about his initial interview with Guzman. Guzman also was driving with a suspended license, he said.

Michael Horgan, who has lived with the Guzmans for the last three years, said that before Guzman left to get more beer and a bottle of whiskey that day, he could tell Guzman was intoxicated.

"I asked him if he was all right to drive and he said he was OK," Horgan said. "I picked (William) up and tickled him. He said, 'Let me go, let me go.' That was the last time I ever saw Willie."

Guzman is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. He is scheduled to appear in Superior Court Sept. 7.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Guzman faces a maximum sentence of life in state prison.

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