Hillcrest hit and run fatality driver surrenders to start jail termAround the City, Latest Issue Thursday, March 16th, 2017
A motorist who struck and killed a 78-year-old tourist on Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest surrendered March 10 to begin his 180-day jail term for hit and run and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Robert Anthony Dean, 60, told officials he was drinking alcohol at The Caliph, a popular gay bar, and left at 10:45 p.m. Aug. 23, 2016. He struck Michael McGraw in the bicycle lane in the 3600 block of Fifth Avenue and drove home without stopping.
McGraw impacted the center of the hood and windshield of Dean’s 2009 Nissan Cube. He went over the roof. A witness took down Dean’s license plate number.
When San Diego Police officers found the car at Dean’s residence in Normal Heights, they discovered blood and hair on the caved in windshield and an airbag had been deployed, according to court records.
Dean’s blood/alcohol level was .14, almost twice the legal limit, according to his probation report. He was intoxicated and slurred his words about 20 minutes after the incident.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Michael Groch ordered Dean not to drink alcohol even at home or go to bars on terms of five years probation. He was fined $2,410. Dean lost his driver’s license.
Dean described himself as a social drinker, but has no desire to drink again, he said. He followed his release conditions to attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and completed a DUI program. Dean told a probation officer he wanted to share his story with others.
“I did not know what I had hit. I was frightened to death,” said Dean in his probation report. “It was like fright of flight kind of thing.”
“I am living with this every day. I can’t believe I caused this trauma,” said Dean. “I can’t seem to get it out of my mind. I have remorse for the victim and his family. I want to do work to help others.”
Dean was screened by the work furlough oversight unit and was tentatively accepted to be able to serve his sentence by going to his job during the day. He would be locked up at nights and on weekends at a work furlough or halfway house facility.
A risk assessment for Dean showed him to be “likely to be successful” on probation, according to the probation department. A prison term would likely be ineffective or counter-productive. If he violates probation conditions, he could be sentenced to four years in prison.
The sheriff’s department reported his projected release date as June 8. Dean pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to committing a fatal hit and run and drunk driving. He was not charged with vehicular manslaughter.
“I firmly believe that had Robert Dean not been driving while intoxicated, the accident that took Mike’s life could have been avoided,” wrote the victim’s sister, Kathy Peterson, to the judge.
Peterson said her brother came to San Diego often. She said he was a compassionate man and he left two real estate properties in his will to two people who only had Social Security income. Those people could live in the properties for the rest of their lives, she wrote.
“We will probably never meet Mr. Dean. I think of him often and the burden he will carry for the rest of his life,” wrote another sister, Shirley Paxton.
Dean was also ordered to pay $1,433 in probation costs. He received credit for one day previously spent in jail.
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