Crack smoking driver convicted in fatal collision 

click to enlarge Eric Banford is accused of smoking crack while fleeing police in East Palo Alto, which lead to the death of a motorcycle rider. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Eric Banford is accused of smoking crack while fleeing police in East Palo Alto, which lead to the death of a motorcycle rider.

A driver who lit up a crack pipe while fleeing police in East Palo Alto before causing a fatal crash in 2011 was found guilty of murder Wednesday, prosecutors said.

The jury deliberated for just 45 minutes before convicting 48-year-old Eric Banford of all charges related to the collision that killed 50-year-old motorcyclist Danny Dixon on Sept. 28, 2011.

Officers investigating a burglary about 5:15 a.m. that day attempted to question Banford as he walked down a street.

Rather than stopping, police said, Banford jumped into a friend's Land Rover that was occupied by two people and took off.

With the headlights off, prosecutors said, Banford ran stops signs and red lights at speeds of up to 70 mph. His two passengers yelled at him to stop.

Instead, he "lit up a crack pipe," San Mateo County District Attorney Wagstaffe said.

It was the second incident in which Banford's recklessness resulted in death. In 1991, he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter after fatally punching a man during a drug robbery in East Palo Alto.

"You would think somebody with a brain would change their ways after something like that," Wagstaffe has said about the case.

Banford is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 1, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said Thursday.

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