California Man Sentenced To 18 Years For Fatal Drunk-Driving Accident

| by Brendan Kelly

A San Diego, California, man who killed three of his five passengers when he crashed his SUV while driving drunk was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Friday. 

William Daniel Cady, 26, was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI last month, Fox 5 reported. He was acquitted of second-degree murder. In court, he watched a slideshow remembering the victims of his actions.

The crash that killed Cady's passengers, Taylor Bednarski, 29, Shon Gilliam, 23, and Jeffrey Becker, 35, occurred on January 10, 2014. Becker is survived by his now-8-year-old daughter, NBC San Diego reported.

The SUV was estimated to be traveling at 87 to 97 mph on a transition ramp when Cady lost control.

Cady's prosecutor, District Attorney Makenzie Harvey, told jurors in her closing argument that Cady had been warned by a judge about his alcohol use in 2011 after he was convicted of vandalism. 

His blood-alcohol content was between 0.10 and 0.18 percent during the crash, according to Harvey. This is above the legal limit of BAC 0.8 percent.

Defense attorney Rafael Acosta told the judge that Cady was willing to take responsibility for his actions early in the proceedings. Prosecutors insisted on going to trial on three murder accounts, however.

Acosta said that everyone in the car shared responsibility for the results of the crash as they had all been drinking, but the judge said that the defendant assumed full responsibility for everybody in the vehicle by deciding to drive.

In addition to Cady's sentence, the judge ordered over $6,000 in restitution to the families of two victims. Restitution for the two other families will reportedly be considered later.

One surviving passenger, Trevor Rodgers, said in his testimony that Cady was driving too fast and laughed while speeding up when the passengers asked him to slow down right before the crash.

"He laughed maniacally, psychotically - that's the way it was described," Harvey said, according to Fox 5.

According to the prosecutor, the SUV flipped at least five times and four of the five passengers were ejected from the vehicle.

“I know the truth," said Bednarski's mother, Sileen. "You murdered my son and two others and you laughed while you did it.

"They lived their last moments in fear and terror — for that, I will never forgive you as long as I live.”

Sources: Fox 5, NBC 7

Photo Credit: Screenshot via Fox 5, NBC 7