It took three years and two trials, but a 40-year-old man with three prior DUIs was convicted of killing a 6-year-old boy on his way home from a San Jose Bible study group in the family minivan.
Gary Westover is now facing a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison, after a Santa Clara County jury found him guilty Thursday of second degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, said Deputy District Attorney Angela Bernhard.
Westover was driving on Quimby Road Feb. 3, 2009, when his pickup crashed into the minivian, where Isaac Young was in the back seat.
The first grade boy at Valley Christian School was killed.
His brother, Aaron, now 11, father and mother were injured. They were on their way home from the Light of the World Apostolic Cathedral, where Isaac's mother, Theodoris Marie Young, is a pastor.
The Youngs testified during the three-week trial, but were not present when the jury came back with a guilty verdict.
"I am relieved," Isaac's father, Christopher Young, said in a phone interview on Friday. "I've already forgiven him, but I want to make sure he learned his lesson and he will take time behind bars to reflect on what he did."
"We miss him," his dad added, of his son. "But we are a happy family, taking one day at a time."
Westover was represented by public defender, Charlie Hendrickson. During the trial, Westover took the stand, and told the jury he was not intentionally running a red light, but simply trying to time the lights assuming the light would change to green when he hit the intersection, Bernhard said. His blood alcohol content was 0.11 after the crash, Bernhard said. The legal limit is .08.
When the verdict was read, Bernhard said that Westover repeated to himself, "It's a car accident. It's a car accident."
Westover was tried in 2010, too. The jury found him guilty of injuring his family, but was hung on the murder change.
Berhnard was pleased that the jury came back the second time with a guilty verdict.
“Time and time and time again, this man was given powerful and personal lessons in the dangers of drinking and driving,” Bernhard said. “Time and time and time again, he stubbornly ignored those lessons. This time, Isaac Young had to pay with his life.”
Westover had three prior DUI crashes, in 1990, 1997 and 1999. In the last case, he had rear-ended a car in Livermore driven by a mother on her way to pick up her children at daycare.
Westover is next scheduled to appear in court to set a sentencing date on June 29.