A state appeals court panel Tuesday upheld a truck driver’s second-degree murder conviction for a crash in which a big rig veered onto a sidewalk in Palmdale, striking a pedestrian before smashing into a building.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that numerous errors were made in Richard Norman Core‘s trial, including failing to instruct jurors on the lesser offense of vehicular manslaughter, allowing course materials from a drug rehabilitation program the defendant attended in 2013 and admitting photographs of the victim, Gary Burris, 65, of Palmdale.
Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the June 23, 2017, crash on Palmdale Boulevard did not suspect Core was under the influence of any drug, but one of the deputies who searched the truck after it was impounded found two eyeglass cases containing a few bindles of methamphetamine and two used glass pipes, according to the ruling.
Core was arrested months later after a toxicology report showed that a blood sample taken from Core after the crash contained amphetamine and methamphetamine, the justices noted.
The appellate court panel ruled that “substantial evidence supports the jury’s finding of implied malice,” noting that he was advised in his 2009 commercial driver’s license application that driving while under the influence of drugs was dangerous to human life and that he could be charged with murder if he caused someone’s death.
Core was sentenced to 15 years to life on the murder charge, with his sentences to run at the same time in connection with his no contest plea before the trial to misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Previous related story: Pedestrian hit, killed by big rig in Palmdale