Alvin Ray Shaw, Jr. of Hawthorne was convicted of 2nd degree murder, felony DUI, and driving on a suspended license by a jury in Long Beach Court on Wednesday a result of a fatal car accident he caused on August 1, 2015. Prosecutors successfully argued Shaw, while intoxicated, drove his vehicle into oncoming traffic on the Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach causing a car accident resulting in the death of a 30 year old San Pedro man and seriously injuring a 21 year old man. Shaw faces life in prison when he returns to court on March 8th.
Murder charges arising out of a DUI accident
Most people view murder as a crime involving the intent to harm the deceased person. However, Shaw’s case serves as a prime example of how a person can be charged and convicted of murder in the absence of intent to harm. In 1981, the California Supreme Court ruled in the People v. Watson that prosecutors could file murder charges against defendants in certain felony DUI cases involving fatalities. More specifically, what has become known as a “Watson Murder” could be charged in fatal DUI accidents when the defendant has been previously advised of the dangers of driving under the influence. Shaw received this very notice due to his prior DUI conviction, which involved both receiving a “Watson Warning” from the judge during his sentencing and during the course of the mandatory DUI education program he was previously ordered to complete. Under the theory of implied malice, prosecutors convinced jurors to convict Shaw on the count of 2nd degree murder based on the fact Shaw should have reasonably known through his prior DUI conviction and sentence that serious injury or death could result from drunk driving.