Jul 10, 2018

Gustavo Zazueta was on DUI probation, he got arrested for another DUI and was found guilty

A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations this afternoon with a guilty verdict against a serial defendant charged with driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater.

Gustavo Zazueta, age 32, of Ukiah, was convicted by jury of driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol .08 or greater, a misdemeanor. The evidence presented at trial was that the defendant's blood alcohol at the time of his driving was .09. The defendant was also on DUI probation at the time of his arrest and had been ordered to have no measurable amount of alcohol in his system while driving.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on an alternative count of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, splitting 9 for guilt to 3. Because under the law this was an alternative count for which additional punishment was unavailable, the Deputy DA's post-trial motion to dismiss that count in the interests of justice was granted.

As a strategy to keep the jury uninformed of the defendant's prior DUI record, the defense motion to bifurcate the trial was granted so that the defendant's two prior convictions (alleged by the DA as sentencing enhancements) would later be decided by the judge at a bench trial.

It remains alleged the defendant has two prior DUI-related convictions -- one in 2018 and one in 2016 -- during the last ten years. Under the law, a third prior conviction (2007) does not count as a sentencing enhancement because the crime and conviction occurred more than ten years ago. 

The bench trial will take place on Wednesday on the two operative priors. Sentencing is expected to immediately follow that trial on today's jury verdict, any and all findings made by the court during the bench trial, a second 2018 DUI which the defendant admitted just this past Monday, and on the defendant having violated his 2016 DUI probation in many ways.

The attorney who presented the People's evidence to the jury was Deputy DA Jamie Pearl. The investigating law enforcement agencies were the Ukiah Police Department and the California Department of Justice forensic crime laboratory in Eureka.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder is presiding over all proceedings involving this defendant.

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