An alleged drunken driver accused of killing a 17-year-old girl as she crossed a street near San Francisco's Stern Grove last weekend was barely above the legal blood-alcohol limit when he was arrested, his attorney said today.
Kieran Brewer, 28, made his initial appearance in court today on felony vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges in connection with the death of 17-year-old Henren Chang, who was fatally struck as she crossed Sloat Boulevard at Vale Avenue at about 11:20 p.m. Saturday.
Brewer's blood-alcohol content when he was booked into custody was .09, barely above the .08 limit, said Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof. However, prosecutors noted that the testing was done hours after the crash and that Brewer admitted to drinking prior to driving.
"The defendant's behavior was as inexcusable was it was predictable," Assistant District Attorney Nicole Joseph-Goteiner said. She said Brewer was also going at least 10 mph above the speed limit on Sloat Boulevard when he struck Chang and that there were no skid marks indicating that he tried to stop before hitting her.
"He was a danger to the community when he got behind the wheel and started driving," Joseph-Goteiner said.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jerome Benson ultimately decided to reduce Brewer's bail to $300,000 from the scheduled $800,000, calling that amount "probably excessive."
Chang was celebrating her 17th birthday on the day she was struck, said District Attorney George Gascon.
"This is a very tragic case," Gascon said. "This is the kind of thing that happens way too often on our streets."
The portion of Sloat Boulevard where she was struck has been the site of other recent fatal collisions with pedestrians, including one in January 2010.
The city's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved retroactively accepting and expending a $797,000 federal grant to make pedestrian safety improvements at three intersections in the area. Gascon said streets without optimal safety conditions are no excuse for the collision.
"If you're driving while you're impaired, those bad conditions become worsened," he said.
Brewer was ordered to return to court on Friday to enter a plea. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of all charges.