A Feb. 13 trial date was set Wednesday for a repeat DUI offender who was allegedly drunk when he drove on the shoulder of eastbound state Route 52 near Tierrasanta and fatally struck a tow-truck operator tending to a disabled trash truck.
Michael Gilbert Gray, 49, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of the Feb. 23 crash that killed 55-year-old Fred Griffith.
Witnesses testified during a daylong preliminary hearing earlier this month that they saw Gray’s Ford Expedition swerve onto the shoulder of the freeway and narrowly miss a large disabled commercial trash truck before striking Griffith, who was standing outside his heavy-duty tow truck in front of the trash truck. The victim was a single father to three teenage boys.
Off-duty sheriff’s Detective Mark Palmer testified that he activated his lights and siren in his vehicle and followed Gray’s SUV before pulling him over a short distance down the highway.
The defendant — who had a half-empty bottle of vodka in his car — was still showing signs of intoxication three hours after the crash, said Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright. Authorities said Gray’s blood-alcohol content was 0.27 percent — more than three times the legal limit for driving — at the time of the accident.
Gray — who has three prior DUIs dating back to 1999 and a felony conviction for committing a lewd act on a child — faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. His last DUI was in 2013, Bright said.
— City News Service
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