Driver in drunken-driving crash convicted of murder

0
496
4 - conviction.jpg

Despite impassioned pleas by his attorney to view a drunken-driving  case that killed two people as manslaughter, jurors on Tuesday were not swayed and convicted the driver of murder.

Perry Lee Oaklely, 35, was convicted of murder for a 2011 car crash in Gardena that claimed the life of Sylvester Payne Jr., 6, and his uncle, Samuel Dickens, 62. Oakley was found guilty of seven felonies. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

Despite impassioned pleas by his attorney to view a drunken-driving  case that killed two people as manslaughter, jurors on Tuesday were not swayed and convicted the driver of murder.

Perry Lee Oaklely, 35, was convicted of murder for a 2011 car crash in Gardena that claimed the life of Sylvester Payne Jr., 6, and his uncle, Samuel Dickens, 62. Oakley was found guilty of seven felonies. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

He sat with his head down in Torrance Superior as his friends and family watched the proceedings, along with the victims’ relatives, the Daily Breeze reported.

The verdict rendered two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, two counts of causing great bodily injury, and fleeing the scene of the crime.

Oakley admitted to being responsible for the deaths, and jurors were faced with determining if it was a case of negligence toward human life or an unintentional result of drunken driving.

County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Turk made her plea to jurors that Oakley was extremely negligent, and made the analogy that the car was the bullet and the gas was the trigger.

The crash occurred at 11:30 p.m. on April 9, 2011, shortly after Oakley left a party in Gardena. Expert testimony said that Oakley was driving his Acura about 14 mph above the 25-mph residential speed limit along 141st Street approaching Normandie Avenue.

There was no posted sign of the speed limit on 141st Street, the defense said.

Oakley failed to slow for a stop sign and slammed into a Toyota Camry at the intersection,  carrying Sylvester Payne Jr., and his three uncles. They were returning home from a family event.

The boy died of massive brain damage shortly after being rushed to County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Dickens who sat beside the boy him in the back seat, died at the scene, officials testified.

Two other uncles, Ralph Payne, suffered internal bleeding and injuries, but recovered and was at this week’s trial. The front-seat passenger, Dennis Vann, also survived with several broken bones.

Oakley acknowledged drinking two beers at the party, but could not explain how his blood alcohol level tested hours after the crash, indicated levels of consumption at seven or eight beers.

He left the scene after the crash, then turned himself in to police about 40 minutes later. He claimed to police that he had been kidnapped and robbed.

Defense attorney Michael Ooley told jurors that while his client’s claim of abduction was “flimsey,” then so was Oakley’s testimony that he had not consumed any alcohol after the crash.

Ooley suggested that his client could have consumed alcohol before being tested, to get his courage up to face police.

Turk said that Oakley was well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, citing a 2001 DUI conviction in which he participated in a court-mandated education program.

Judge Mark Arnold ordered Oakley to return to court Dec. 20 for sentencing. Oakley is also due at a hearing on a prior arson charge. He faces a minimum of 35 years to life for each murder conviction.