Updated 2:15 PM PST, Mon, Nov 2, 2009
Jurors took needed less than two hours Monday to convict a 22-year-old man of gross vehicular manslaughter for running over a teenage bicyclist with his pickup truck two years ago in Huntington Beach.
Jeffrey Francis Woods, who had been out on bail, was taken into custody immediately after the guilty verdict was read in a Santa Ana courtroom. He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced on Dec. 11 by Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly, according to prosecutors.
The loved ones of Danny Oates, the 14-year-old boy killed as he rode his bike to school to pick up his class schedule on Aug. 29, 2007, hugged and consoled each other after hearing the verdict.
The teen’s father said he relished seeing Woods, who lived with his family not far from the Oates residence, led away in handcuffs.
“I loved it,” Paul Oates said. “He deserves it.”
Defense attorney Scott Well, who unsuccessfully argued that Woods had an epileptic seizure when he struck the bicyclist, said he was disappointed in the verdict and will appeal.
“You can’t even read the jury instructions in that amount of time,” Well said, referring to how quickly the jury reached its verdict.
Deputy District Attorney Susan Price, who said she was also “very surprised” by how quickly the jury reached its decision, told the jury that Woods was impaired by Vicodin and Xanax when he was driving and was also driving recklessly that day, texting his girlfriend on his cell phone right before the crash.
Woods was eastbound on Indianapolis Avenue when he crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into the bicyclist with such force that the boy flew 150 feet and died on impact.
The truck then careened into a palm tree and slammed through a wall into a backyard. Woods’ legs were crushed and almost had to be amputated.
As doctors worked to save Woods’ legs two hours after the crash, they drew blood and found Vicodin and Xanax in his system, according to Price.
She also said Huntington Beach police determined that Woods had sent a text message to his girlfriend one minute before the crash, and had made phone calls while driving.
Well argued that his client had a history of seizures, suffering his first when he fell and fractured his skull when he was 14 months old.
Copyright City News Service
First Published: Nov 2, 2009 2:00 PM PST