Woman Gets 30 to Life For 2013 DUI Crash in Menlo Park

A Redwood City woman on Wednesday was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for drunkenly mowing down a Menlo Park couple who were walking their dog in October 2013.

Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles said Marjorie Ann Reitzell had "no respect for the law nor appreciation for the danger she caused … this was murder," according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

In May, a San Mateo County jury, comprising eight women and four men, convicted Reitzell of second-degree murder. The 55-year-old woman was also found guilty of two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, causing injury while driving under the influence and multiple prior convictions for driving under the influence with enhancements for injuring more than one person, and having a blood alcohol level higher than 0.15 percent.

According to prosecutors, Reitzell veered off Chilco Street in Belle Haven just before 7 p.m. Oct. 24, fatally striking Balbir Singh, 50, and Kamal Singh, 45, from behind. She claimed during the jury trial that she swerved to avoid running over the pair’s Chihuahua – Teddy – who darted out in front of her car.

After ploughing into the Singhs, Reitzell jumped the center median, slammed head-on with another car – injuring its teenage occupants – and collided with a tree. Prosecutors stressed that the couple’s bones broke, their organs were displaced and their clothes and shoes flew off due to the impact.

Reitzell was on probation for a 2012 DUI conviction at the time of the accident, prosecutors said. However, her blood-alcohol content was 0.23 more than an hour after the crash, nearly three times the legal limit.

It probably measured 0.26 or 0.27 during the crash, Deputy District Attorney Tricia Povah noted during her May 21 closing arguments.

Foiles denied the defense motion for a new trial and attorney Richard Keyes' attempt to reduce the convictions to involuntary manslaughter.

Reitzell "insults the intelligence of the jury when she concocts a story about the dog running into the street,” Foiles said Wednesday.

Guidotti said that Reitzell will be eligible for parole after 30 years. 

"The sentence was extremely appropriate, in light of Ms. Reitzell's horrific conduct," she added. "Judge Foiles' comments were right on the mark."

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