Roseville, Calif.- California’s Third District Court of Appeal has upheld the second-degree murder conviction of the driver who struck and killed Rocklin Police Officer Matthew Redding in 2005.
Redding, 29, was hit by a pickup truck at about 4 a.m. on Oct. 9, 2005, as he stood outside his patrol car directing traffic toward an exit on Highway 65 in Roseville.
The driver of the truck, Eric Kenneth Dungan, fled and was arrested by police minutes later. His blood alcohol level was measured at 0.18 percent, which is more than twice the state’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
In 2007, a Placer County Superior Court jury returned guilty verdicts against Dungan for second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The jury also determined that a special allegation that Dungan fled the scene was true.
Dungan, now 28, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison by Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis.
Dungan’s attorney claimed that there had been no evidence of implied malice against his client and appealed the murder conviction. However, the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction last week.
Placer County Assistant District Attorney Daniel Gong, who prosecuted Dungan, said he was pleased with the appeal court’s decision, and he praised the California Highway Patrol for its investigative work that allowed him to convict the defendant.
”I”m also happy for the family of Matt Redding,’ he said. ‘This does bring some closure for them. I know they were nervous about the appeal.’
During the 2007 trial, Gong called witnesses to the stand to establish that Dungan had been stopped on two previous occasions on suspicion of drunken driving.
Gong also elicited testimony from a cab driver who said he drove Dungan back to his pickup truck shortly before Redding was killed and urged him not to drive because he appeared to be drunk.
The prosecutor noted that Dungan, who was an airman at Travis Air Force Base, received numerous weekly safety sessions at Travis in which base personnel were cautioned about the dangers of drinking and driving.
In addition, Dungan testified in court that he was text-messaging a friend and listening to music on headphones as he approached flashing lights on the highway.
He said he thought the lights, which were coming from Redding’s patrol car, were from a construction zone. He also said he didn”t know what he had struck with his truck.