A state appeals court panel on Tuesday upheld a man’s second-degree murder conviction for a drunken crash that killed two people, including a young child, in Gardena nearly four years ago.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to prove implied malice involving the second-degree murder charges against Perry Lee Oakley Jr. stemming from the deaths of 6-year-old Sylvester Payne Jr. of Los Angeles and Samuel Lee Dickens, 62, of Compton.

The appellate court justices noted that Oakley did not dispute that the evidence was sufficient to prove that he drove with a blood-alcohol level above 0.08 percent. The panel also noted that jurors could infer that Oakley knew the hazards of driving while intoxicated because he was ordered to complete an alcohol program following his December 2001 no contest plea to driving under the influence.

“Finally, defendant engaged in highly dangerous driving. Travelling at approximately 39 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone, he ran an unobstructed stop sign, entered the intersection of 141st Street and Normandie, and collided with the (Toyota) Camry, making no attempt to avoid the collision,” the panel noted in its 23-page ruling.

Payne and Dickens, who were sitting on the back seat of the Camry, were killed in the April 9, 2011, crash, and the Camry’s driver and front passenger were seriously injured.

Oakley left the scene of the crash and then walked back to the area about 40 minutes later and told police he had been kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint by strangers after the collision.

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Turk read to jurors a portion of an essay Oakley had written in connection with his December 2001 DUI conviction.

“Before receiving the DUI, I was careless and did not give any thought to how drinking affect(ed) my loved ones and myself. I did not care about where I woke up in the morning after a night of drinking nor did I care to remember what I had done or whose life was affected. I was truly on a path of self- destruction taking along with me everyone who love and care about me. My respect for others around me was virtually non-existent. It is only (now) that I realize this,” Oakley wrote.

He was sentenced in May 2013 to a state prison sentence of more than 81 years to life.

City News Service

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