An Emeryville man was charged Thursday with murder for allegedly downing several whiskey drinks before crashing his car in Fremont, killing a U.S. Marine who had returned from Afghanistan only last month, authorities said.
Alexander Yohn, 23, of Emeryville refused offers for a ride after a night of bar-hopping and got behind the wheel early Tuesday, causing the death of motorcyclist Andrew Silva, 23, of Union City, police said.
Alameda County prosecutors charged Yohn with murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and hit-and-run, all felonies. He is in jail without bail.
While murder charges are rare in roadway deaths, Bay Area prosecutors have filed them occasionally in the past, often in cases where a motorist is intoxicated and has past convictions for drunken driving.
Yohn, a self-described heroin addict and alcoholic who listed his occupation as an emergency medical technician, has a previous drunken-driving conviction in Minnesota, records show.
To prove second-degree murder, the government must show implied malice, that a driver engaged in an intentional, unlawful act with conscious disregard for the risk to human life.
Police determined that Yohn drank his first whiskey about 9:30 p.m. Monday at a Fremont bar and drank at least three more at a second bar, where he had been belligerent. He left at midnight over the protestations of a woman who begged him not to drive, and had called his roommate to come pick him up, Fremont police Officer Alan Zambonin wrote in an affidavit.
About 1 a.m., an employee of a Taco Bell restaurant near Fremont Boulevard and Bonde Way saw Yohn appearing intoxicated and causing a disturbance while behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper in the drive-through, police said.
The employee called police. Yohn sped away north on Fremont Boulevard, and Officer Steven Nordseth spotted him while driving in the opposite direction, authorities said. Nordseth tried to stop the suspect, but he allegedly failed to yield, ran a red light at Decoto Road and collided with Silva, who died at the scene.
Yohn crashed the car into a utility pole, and the car caught on fire, said Geneva Bosques, a Fremont police spokeswoman. Yohn then ran into a nearby field, where Nordseth took him into custody.
Silva was a U.S. Marine lance corporal who had returned from Afghanistan in February. He leaves behind his wife and 2-year-old son.
A fund has been set up for Silva's family. Contributions can be sent to the Andrew Silva Memorial account, Fremont Bank, P.O. Box 8170, Fremont, CA 94537-8170.