John Giumarra III was sentenced to 90 days in jail — which he'll apply to serve as work release — for a crash that killed a bicyclist last year in which he was driving under the influence, but was found not responsible for the collision.
Superior Court Judge Judith K. Dulcich also ordered Giumarra to complete 100 hours of community service, five years of probation, pay $2,018 in court fines and fees, attend DUI school and install interlock ignition devices on his vehicles. He's not to consume alcohol or visit bars or other establishments that primarily serve alcohol.
Giumarra, 49, has a prior conviction in connection with drunken driving. He was still on probation when the crash occurred.
A member of the family that runs Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, Giumarra's prominence in the community prompted an online outcry after Dulcich last month reduced a felony hit-and-run charge against him to a misdemeanor.
The judge's decision, after which Giumarra pleaded no contest to the hit-and-run and misdemeanor DUI charges, infuriated the District Attorney's office.
Prosecutor Brad Taconi said Tuesday the D.A.'s office believed a felony hit-and-run charge was appropriate. Giumarra had faced up to four years in prison if convicted of that charge.
"Mr. Giumarra was extremely lucky in this case," he said.
Typical DUI cases, Taconi said, involve the motorist weaving, speeding, running a red light or committing some other unsafe driving action. In this case, Giumarra, although intoxicated, was not driving erratically and didn't perform an independent action that caused the crash, according to evidence gathered at the scene.
Tests showed the bicyclist was under the influence of meth when she darted across the roadway and collided with Giumarra's SUV.
Nevertheless, Giumarra left the scene, Taconi said, and it wasn't until 4 1/2 minutes later that a police officer stopped his SUV.
Giumarra's attorneys, however, argued their client never tried to flee. They said Giumarra was unsure as to what exactly had happened due in part to poor lighting conditions on the stretch of roadway where the collision occurred and to another SUV blocking his view of the bicyclist as she hurtled across the road.
He slowed into a nearby parking lot on F Street after the collision, parked briefly, and soon began making his way back to the scene, said H.A. Sala, Giumarra's attorney, along with Jeremy Brehmer. He was pulled over while heading back.
"In this particular case there's absolutely no evidence that Mr. Giumarra was the cause of this incident," said Sala, adding he's never come across a case like this in 35 years of practicing law.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 16 of last year, Giumarra was driving in the 1600 block of Golden State Avenue when he collided with bicyclist Angela Holder. She rode across the No. 2 and No. 1 lanes, directly in his path, court documents say.
Holder, 32, died the next day at Kern Medical Center.
Giumarra had a blood alcohol content of 0.18, more than twice the state legal limit of .08, according to court documents. But officers reported Giumarra showed no signs of intoxication, and his performance on field sobriety tests were typical of a sober person.
Brehmer said it's possible the breathalyzers weren't properly calibrated.
Holder operated her bicycle with "very, very high amounts" of meth in her system, Brehmer said. It was far in excess of what's necessary to cause irrational behavior and hallucinations.
After the hearing, Sala said the judge examined the evidence without allowing emotion — or Giumarra's status in the community — to interfere with with the facts of the case. Those facts have no connection to who he is or his family's company, he said.
In fact, Sala said, Giumarra's social status may have worked against him at the beginning as some members of the public clamored for the harshest possible charges against him while the investigation was still unfolding.
Sala said there was compelling evidence that Giumarra may have been found not guilty of all charges had he gone to trial. They advised him to enter the no contest pleas, however, due to the risk he faced with the decision in a jury's hands.
While criminal proceedings are over, civil litigation on behalf of Holder's family is pending.
Joel T. Andreesen, a partner at Rodriguez & Associates, said he will soon depose Giumarra now the criminal case has finished.
Reading a statement written by Debra Fernandez, Holder's mother, Andreesen said, despite what others may think, Giumarra's actions that day resulted in a death. Holder leaves behind five children who range in age from 3 to 16.
The attorney noted Giumarra's prior run-ins with the law. He said he should have learned his lesson before this incident occurred.
In 2015, Giumarra pleaded no contest to a "wet-and-reckless" charge after police found him under the influence in a vehicle parked in the driveway of his home. In 1987, he was convicted of reckless driving.