VISTA (CNS) – A drunken driver who was speeding at more than 120 mph on a Fallbrook freeway when he struck and killed a motorcyclist last year was sentenced Thursday to six years in state prison.
John Dupree Johnson, 26, pleaded guilty to charges that included gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for causing the Aug. 17, 2019, death of 70-year-old Anthony Ragone Jr. on Interstate 15.
The victim was struck from behind around 4:30 a.m. on the northbound I-15, south of Mission Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.
TThe victim was knocked to the ground, then run over by Johnson’s vehicle. He died at the scene.
Deputy District Attorney David Uyar said that about five seconds prior to the crash, Johnson was driving at a maximum speed of 123 mph.
After being released from jail, he accrued two violations related to SCRAM, an alcohol monitoring device often used for DUI defendants, according to Uyar. The prosecutor said Johnson received a violation in March of this year for consuming alcohol and another in May for tampering with the device.
Defense attorney Gregory Garrison sought probation, citing his client’s lack of criminal history and seven years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Though he denied committing the SCRAM violations, Johnson apologized to any of the victim’s family members who may have been listening to the sentencing hearing, which was broadcast online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No family should lose a member due to lack of judgment of others,” he said. “I shame myself for being in this situation where I’m responsible for others’ suffering and grief.”
San Diego County Superior Court Judge James E. Simmons said he sincerely believed Johnson was remorseful, but he elected to impose prison time due to the seriousness of the offense.
“I think the court has to be consistent in how we address these issues in these types of cases in order to have the desired impact where we can prevent these deaths from occurring, because these are all preventable in these types of cases,” the judge said.