◼ Charges may change for Bear
A Wednesday preliminary hearing for a Hoopa driver who struck and killed a bicycle commuter in August 2008 was delayed as a result of new evidence, which District Attorney Paul Gallegos said may force prosecutors to reduce charges in the case.
Speaking after the hearing, Gallegos said as the investigation into the crash has continued to unfold, California Highway Patrol officers say it appears Alan Bear did not act with gross negligence when he struck and killed 42-year-old bicyclist and local botanist Gregory Jennings.
In the opinion of the CHP investigators “this is not gross negligence,” Gallegos said. “I have an obligation to turn that evidence over to the defense, and I have to reevaluate my case.”
Bear has been charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, providing false information to a police officer and making an unsafe lane change. But, Gallegos said those charges may be altered as a result of the new information.
It is not yet certain the charges will be amended, or exactly what charges Bear would face if they are, Gallegos said.
Gross negligence is one of three criteria prosecutors must prove in order to sustain a vehicular manslaughter charge. Those criteria are: proof the defendant was driving the vehicle, the suspect violated the law and that violation was committed with gross negligence.
Gross negligence, as defined in California statute, is an act done with such careless disregard for the safety of others' lives that it is likely to cause foreseeable injury.