California: Sonoma District Attorney Jill Ravitch says Juan Banda Jr.’s felony DUI calls for lengthy prison term

Sonoma County California Sheriff

Sonoma County California Sheriff

DUI Driver Responsible For Head On Collision Resulting In Great Bodily Sentenced To Eight Years In Prison

Santa Rosa, CA  –  October 31, 2015  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that on October 22, 2015 defendant Juan Banda Jr., 22-years-old of Santa Rosa, was sentenced by the Honorable Gary Medvigy to eight years in state prison for driving under the influence of alcohol and causing great bodily injury.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “Despite his young age, Banda is no stranger to the criminal justice system.  His actions in this case and his past conduct completely justify a lengthy prison term.”

On September 2, 2015 Banda pled no contest to a felony violation of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in great bodily injury, and driving without a valid license.  He also admitted enhancements for having previously been convicted of a serious and violent felony as well as having served a prior prison term.

The crash occurred when the vehicle Banda was driving north-bound on Valley Ford Road crossed into oncoming traffic.  The passenger of the vehicle Banda struck was able to quickly escape.  However, the driver was trapped for an hour before being safely extricated by emergency personnel.

The driver sustained major injuries that included multiple bone fractures and severe lacerations.  Banda was observed after the crash displaying signs consistent with alcohol impairment, and a subsequent test confirmed the presence of alcohol in his blood.

Repeat DUI Offender Sentenced to Prison for DUI and Child Endangerment

Santa Rosa, CA  –  September 2, 2015  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that defendant Martin Reyes Rosales, 32-years-old of Cloverdale, was sentenced Tuesday by the Honorable Patrick Broderick to four years in state prison.  Rosales had previously pled no contest to three felony offenses for child endangerment and one misdemeanor offense for driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more.  Along with his no contest plea to three felony and one misdemeanor offenses, Rosales also admitted that he has two prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years, both committed here in Sonoma County.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This defendant has repeatedly endangered the citizens of Sonoma County by driving impaired.  Here, the defendant was impaired, speeding, and doing so with his young children unrestrained in the car.  We are pleased that the court has imposed a prison sentence.”

The charges resulted from an incident in Healdsburg on August 15, 2014, when Rosales was pulled over for speeding on Alexander Valley Road.  Rosales’s vehicle was paced by the Healdsburg police officer traveling approximately 70 mph in a 45 mph zone.

When the arresting officer walked up to the vehicle and contacted Rosales, he saw Rosales’s three young children sitting unrestrained in the front seat.  The children ranged in age from 4 to 11.

None of the children were wearing seat belts, let alone proper child safety seats.  Rosales displayed objective signs of being under the influence of alcohol, and a subsequent breath test revealed his breath alcohol concentration to be 0.18 percent.  At the time of his arrest, Rosales was on misdemeanor probation for a similar offense during which he was driving under the influence of alcohol with one child not properly restrained.

The case was prosecuted by DDA Matthew Henning of the District Attorney’s Vertical DUI Unit.  Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Healdsburg Police Department headed the investigation.

Parole Denied In 2001 DUI Death

Santa Rosa, CA  –  October 9, 2015  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch attended the parole hearing for Christopher Peter Kazas, 33, at Soledad State Prison on September 29, 2015.  Ravitch was the prosecutor at the jury trial in 2002, where a jury found Kazas guilty of trying to evade a CHP officer and murder.

In his effort to outrun the officer, Kazas ran a red light and broadsided a van driven by Michael Bireschi, who was killed, and then fled the scene.  Bonita Bireschi was injured in the collision.  She attended the parole hearing along with her daughter.  The Parole Board found that Kazas continued to present an unreasonable risk to public safety and issued a five year denial.

District Attorney Ravitch noted that Kazas referred to the incident as an accident when he was sentenced, and denied he was a murderer.  At the parole hearing, while never facing the widow, Kazas acknowledged his role in the death and the pain he had inflicted upon so many.

Nonetheless Kazas’ conduct while incarcerated indicated to the board that he still lacked insight into the nature of his criminal behavior, and was unable to adhere to rules, regulations and laws.

Mrs. Bireschi was unable to address the board at the hearing, overcome by emotion after her daughter spoke of the wonderful man who had been killed, and of all who missed him, as well as all he missed as children were born and wed.

“Chris Kazas committed a very selfish act when he chose to drink and drive on April 22, 2001,” said Ravitch.  “He knew from prior DUIs how dangerous his conduct was, but drove anyway and then tried to outrun a law enforcement officer, putting everyone on the road at risk.  His failure to take responsibility was echoed in his misconduct in prison, and his words to the parole board, suggesting he had served enough time for the damage he caused.  The parole board disagreed with his suggestion, and he will have five more years to think about what he did and who he will be when he is released.”

From SFGate:
CHP Officer Wayne Ziese said Kazas ran from his truck after the crash but was apprehended nearby. Ziese said Kazas has a history of drunken driving and was booked into Sonoma County Jail.

Repeat DUI Offender Sentenced To Prison For DUI Causing Injury

Santa Rosa, CA  –  October 16, 2015  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that defendant Francisco Sanchez Delgado, 35-years-old of Cloverdale, was sentenced Thursday by the Honorable Gary Medvigy to five years in state prison.  Delgado had previously pled no contest to one felony offense for DUI causing injury and admitted a special allegation that he caused great bodily injury to the victim.  Delgado also admitted that he had one prior misdemeanor DUI conviction from May of 2009.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This defendant made the decision to endanger the lives of multiple people by driving impaired.  By sheer luck he did not kill the victim in this case.  Here is an individual that has been warned directly by the court in the past that he could be charged with murder for killing someone during the course of a DUI, and he still chose, on two additional occasions, to get behind the wheel intoxicated.  He is dangerous, and the prison sentence is appropriate.”

The charges resulted from an incident on April 21, 2015, when Delgado caused a head-on collision on Highway 12 at Dunbar Road.  As a result of the car accident, the victim suffered a broken foot.  Minutes before the collision, Delgado had been seen driving the wrong way by a separate driver who was able to pull off the road in time to avoid a collision.

That driver called 911 to report Delgado, but police officers were unable to respond before Delgado ultimately collided with the victim.  When officers responded to the scene and contacted Delgado, they observed objective signs of alcohol intoxication. A blood test was conducted and Delgado’s blood was found to contain 0.13 percent alcohol.  At the time of his arrest, Delgado was pending charges on yet another DUI from an incident that occurred in January of 2015.

The case was prosecuted by DDA Christopher Brown of the District Attorney’s Vertical DUI Unit.  Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The California Highway Patrol headed the investigation.