Woman pleads no contest to second degree murder
Driver convicted of DUI in 2014 hit and run causing death of cyclist
– Michelle Yvonne Hart, 46, of Nipomo, entered a plea of no contest to second degree murder for killing victim Glen Hurley Fulton, 49, while she was driving under the influence of alcohol on October 1, 2014. Hart also pled no contest to one count of felony hit and run causing the death of another, according to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney.
Hart struck the victim as he was riding his bicycle in rural Arroyo Grande. A test of the defendant’s blood revealed the presence of alcohol, methamphetamine, and THC (the active ingredient in marijuana).
California law recognizes that driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is inherently dangerous and can result in deadly collisions. The law therefore allows the prosecution to charge a defendant with murder if he or she kills another person as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug. This type of murder is often called a “Watson” murder, based on the 1981 California Supreme Court case People v. Watson in which that defendant had multiple prior driving under the influence convictions which were used as evidence to prosecute him for second-degree murder under the legal theory of implied malice.
Hart was convicted for driving under the influence twice within the previous ten years. She faces a maximum penalty of nineteen years-to-life in state prison and will be sentenced on June 29, 2016.
This case was investigated by the California Highway Patrol and was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Chase Martin.