A Bakersfield, California man was recently sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second degree murder in connection with a fatal traffic collision in a construction zone. 32-year-old Jerad Cross was convicted of killing a 45-year-old Clovis man when he rear-ended his stopped vehicle while under the influence of prescription medication and other drugs. According to authorities, the force of the impact forced the deceased man's pick-up truck underneath the trailer of a semi-truck.
The local District Attorney's Office apparently chose to pursue a rare murder charge because Cross was driving on a suspended motor vehicle operator's license at the time of the collision. Previously, Cross was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding on at least five occasions, and he was allegedly involved in at least three other at-fault crashes. Immediately prior to the deadly accident, Cross purportedly crushed and snorted prescription medication in an effort to increase the effect of the drugs. He also apparently smoked methamphetamine the night before the accident.
At trial, Cross argued he was not guilty of second degree murder because he failed to understand he was endangering others when the wreck occurred. Prosecutors claimed Cross was well aware of the risks because the label on the drugs he took cautions against driving while taking the medication. Following two weeks of testimony, jurors convicted Cross on the murder charge as well as gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, possession of drug paraphernalia, and operating a vehicle with a suspended driver's license.