In the finale of a heart-wrenching retrial, a former Energizer salesman whose drunken high-speed crash with a eucalyptus tree in Burlingame killed his best friend was found guilty of second-degree murder on Tuesday.
Bruce Alan Walker Jr., 38, will face 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 16, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
“The victim’s parents were just overwhelmed with the justice that was done for the loss of their son,” Wagstaffe said.
Walker lost control of his luxury sedan on El Camino Real after dining at Broadway Prime in April 2009. The passenger side of the Infiniti M45 slammed into a roadside tree, killing pal Daniel James White, 36, of San Francisco.
Two years after the accident, Walker was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter and faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. During that trial, the jury hung on the charge of second-degree murder, which means the defendant acted with malice or intentional disregard for human life.
The dissenting jurors said Walker was too drunk to recognize he was putting someone else’s life in danger.
But prosecutors pushed for the murder rap in a retrial against Walker, citing two previous DUI convictions in San Mateo County, in 1997 and 2001. At the time of the crash, Walker was also facing charges for allegedly crashing a rental car while drunk during a business trip in Wisconsin,
To avoid a retrial, prosecutors had offered a deal with Walker that would pack a 15-year prison sentence. Walker declined the deal.
During opening statements of the retrial, Walker’s attorney, Geoff Carr, said the blood alcohol test taken after the accident was mishandled and flawed.
Deputy District Attorney Joe Cannon opened the trial by showing jurors a photograph of the mangled overturned car, with White’s lifeless body still strapped inside.
Carr, who could not immediately be reached for comment, said before the retrial that the murder rap was too severe and that his client will live the rest of his life knowing he killed his best friend.
Bay City News contributed to this report.