- Date of Crime: 2007-07-29
- Location of crime:
- Hometown: Flint, MI
- Sex: M
- Age: 26
Victim was a part of law enforcement
Ramon Felix Pineda
- Sex: M
- Age: 25
- Arrest Status: charged
- Nationality: Mexico
The illegal alien accused of running over and killing an offduty Flint police officer in Independence Township had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit, blood test results showed.
His attorney said Friday that second-degree murder is not an appropriate charge for the Mexican national, Ramon Felix Pineda, who has lived in the United States for more than a decade.
Attorneys on both sides pointed to the blood results Friday morning as the preliminary examination for Pineda, 25, was adjourned until Sept. 28 by 52nd-2nd District Judge Kelley Kostin.
Pineda of Clarkston is charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 26 crash that killed Flint police Officer Vincent Owen D'Anna, 26, who died the following morning at Genesys Health Park in Grand Blanc.
Prior testimony revealed that Pineda drank seven beers before driving the 1992 Camaro that struck D'Anna's 2007 Suzuki motorcycle from behind on southbound Sashabaw Road near Clarkston Road.
The blood tests showed that Pineda's blood alcohol content was 0.16, double the legal limit of 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood.
"It is a pretty significant blood alcohol level," Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor Rob Novy said.
Part of the reason for the higher charge is that witnesses reported Pineda kept driving, going over D'Anna, who was underneath the Camaro. Witnesses then tackled and held Pineda as he tried to flee.
Defense attorney Arthur Greenstone disputed what he said were portrayals of Pineda as a monster.
"He is anything but that," Greenstone said. "This was a tragic accident, and that's the key word - accident. I understand the anger. They paint him as an uncaring devil, but after people know what was in his mind, maybe they'll understand."
Greenstone said panic drove Pineda to run, both at the accident and at his status as an illegal immi____GRANT, but he said that Pineda initially tried to help and then became frightened by angry witnesses.
"In the beginning, right after, my understanding is that he was one of the people who was trying to help," Greenstone said. "He was in a panic. There were people cursing at him, screaming at him. He thought he was going to get the hell beaten out of him."
Greenstone also said Pineda is haunted by the death.
"He said he dreams about it," Greenstone said. "It is with him all the time."
Greenstone said that it appears Pineda was drinking and did strike D'Anna's motorcycle, but he said he believes the appropriate charge should be operating under the influence of alcohol causing death, a potential 15-year felony.
To prove second-degree murder, a potential life felony, prosecutors must show that Pineda acted in a willful and wanton disregard for life, previous cases have shown.
D'Anna's family wore black Tshirts with his picture and name, followed by, "May justice be served." They declined further comment.
The difference between the two charges can mean years, or even decades, of additional prison time.
The Michigan Supreme Court has allowed the tougher charge to apply in cases where the accused had to have known that death or serious injury was a likely outcome of their driving, something that typically involves several examples of dangerous driving accompanying the drinking.
Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca has taken a hardline approach to drunken drivers who kill, charging numerous people since 2004 with seconddegree murder.
Currently, two cases charged with second-degree murder are pending - Pineda's and that of 18-year-old Daniel Chase, who was a Lake Orion High School senior when involved in a crash that killed 24-year-old Sherry Burke of Oxford on Dec. 16.
Prosecutor Novy said Chase's charges are appropriate because Chase was allegedly driving the wrong way and had been arrested for drunken driving in the same area of Lapeer Road just two weeks prior to the fatal accident.
Chase's defense attorney, Kirsten Nielsen Hartig, disputes that, arguing that the prior arrest did not put Chase on notice for the dangers of drunken driving because he had not even appeared in court yet.
The results of prior cases have varied, with some resulting in convictions for lesser charges and others leading to prison terms of up to 25 years for the minimum.