OAKLAND -- A man accused of using his SUV to purposely run over and kill a pedestrian in Alameda two years ago is expected to be sentenced to 11 years in state prison after a judge found him guilty Thursday of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Dionisio Molina, 38, was facing a second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of 78-year-old George Marceline, who was struck and killed as he walked along Shore Line Drive early the morning of July 5, 2008.
Earlier this week the jury deadlocked on the murder charge, with nine jurors finding him not guilty.
Despite most jurors wanting to acquit, Deputy District Attorney Annie Saadi said prosecutors were prepared to retry the case, which likely prompted Molina to cut a deal Thursday and enter a no contest plea on the vehicular manslaughter charge.
Molina will be sentenced Nov. 19 in Alameda County Superior Court.
Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta said Thursday that she will sentence him to 10 years in state prison, plus an additional year because the jury found him guilty of assaulting two police detectives while they questioned him about Marceline's death.
"I feel that it was a compromise, a fair and appropriate one," Molina's attorney, David Billingsley, said about the plea bargain. "Mr. Molina accepts the responsibility for the fact that his actions led to the death of Mr. Marceline."
Saadi said she was disappointed that the jury did not convict Molina on a murder charge. But she said she cut a deal so that Marceline's family would have a sense of resolution.
Molina did not know Marceline -- who was out for his daily walk and on a footpath -- when he intentionally ran him down with his 1997 Jeep Cherokee, according to investigators.
During her opening statement, Saadi said Molina was consumed by "full blown rage" on the day of Marceline's death due to marital, financial and employment problems.
After leaving his Alameda residence that morning, Molina drove his Jeep through a gate and cyclone fence at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach and then traveled about 30 mph along a footpath to Shore Line Drive, where police say he struck Marceline and tried to run down two other pedestrians.
Molina also knocked over a stop sign and a concrete light pole along the street, which borders San Francisco Bay and is popular with joggers and walkers.
Marceline was a retired warehouse worker and a longtime Oakland Raiders fan.
"He was one of the best people who ever walked on this planet," said his nephew, Earl Lopez, 80, of Castro Valley.
Billingsley did not dispute Saadi's description of what happened, nor did he argue against the jury punishing his client for killing a man.
But Billingsley said a murder conviction would not be a just verdict for a defendant who could not remember what occurred.
Billingsley said Molina suffered a brain trauma caused about a week and a half before by his wife, who hit him twice on the head with a wooden box during a fight.
Those blows coupled with previous use of the sleep-aid drug Ambien and high stress put Molina in a state where he did not have control of his actions, Billingsley said.
"I think it's ridiculous," Marceline's grandnephew, Joseph Yackle, 27, said Thursday about the manslaughter charge.
Yackle said Molina's actions on the morning that Marceline was killed -- such as getting dressed and getting behind the wheel -- showed he was aware of what he was doing.