Singh: Second degree murder charge added for fatal hit-and-run

June 22, 2011
Santa Paula News

A Santa Paula business owner will face an added charge of second-degree murder he is accused of committing during a series of hit-and-run accidents that occurred last month in Ventura.

One person, a 20-year-old Ventura College student who was riding his bike, was killed in the series of collisions on Telegraph Road.

Satnam Singh, 49, a resident of Ventura, was charged with second-degree murder when he appeared in Ventura County Superior Court last week for an early disposition conference. The charge was added to others Singh faces in relation to the May 11 crashes the left Nick Haverland dead, two other cyclists with broken bones, and a family riding in a vehicle allegedly struck by Singh’s Hummer with minor injuries.

Singh initially was charged with felony drunken driving, felony hit-and-run and misdemeanor hit-and-run before the second-degree murder charge was added June 14. Singh, who remains in Ventura County Jail under $500,000 bail, has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree murder is usually considered without premeditation, but acting with conscious disregard for life that leads to the death of another. In addition, those with high blood alcohol levels - such as was found with Singh - often use diminished capacity as a defense in criminal cases.

Singh’s alleged actions including driving while intoxicated and being involved in several crashes he fled from before he struck Haverland, circumstances that warrant the new charge. If convicted on the second-degree murder charge Singh could face a possible sentence of 15 years to life, and he could spend additional time in prison if convicted of all charges in the case.

A driver who witnessed the Hummer hit Haverland followed Singh in the heavily damaged vehicle to his home less than a mile away, where he was arrested.

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