A Pomona man who stole a car from his neighbor while intoxicated and fled from police at high speeds, slamming into another vehicle and killing the driver, was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder and other charges.
Michael D. Gardner, 39, was also convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving or taking a vehicle without consent, fleeing a pursuing police officer causing serious bodily injury and driving with a license that was suspended or revoked due to a prior DUI conviction.
He faces 15 years to life in prison when he’s sentenced June 19 in Pomona.
The charges stemmed from a May 7, 2015, crash that killed 32-year-old Marissa Leigh Vasquez, of Pomona. According to a lawsuit filed against Gardner by Vasquez’s fiance, the woman was driving a 2010 Honda Civic west on Arrow Highway when she was hit from behind at such high velocity that her car was pushed sideways and split a utility pole, then rolled nearly 400 feet before coming to rest upside down.
Prosecutors said Gardner stole the vehicle he was driving from a neighbor, and he had a 0.27 percent blood alcohol content at the time. A police officer tried to pull Gardner over, but he sped away — hitting speeds of up to 127 mph, prosecutors said.
After he struck Vasquez’s car, Gardner tried to flee on foot.
–City News Service
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