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Orange County Bar Association

Jeffrey Woods Gets 6 Years

Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo

Remember Jeffrey Woods? He was the guy who caused an accident which killed 14-year-old Danny Oates as he was riding his bike in Orange County, California. On December 11, 2009, I was present at his sentencing as Orange County Superior Court Judge Marc Kelly ordered Woods to serve six years in state prison for the crime of vehicular manslaughter (Vehicle Code Section 192.5) with gross negligence while intoxicated. Apparently, Woods had been on his cell phone sending text messages while driving under the influence of two prescription drugs when the accident happened. The case was the Orange County District Attorney’s Office first prosecution of a felony manslaughter jury trial that involved text messaging.

The judge told Woods, “What caused this accident was your selfishness, your careless indifference for human life.” Despite the judge’s harsh words, he refused to give Woods the maximum sentence of 10 years as he had no criminal history before the fatal crash which took place on August 29, 2007. Woods’ own father told the judge that his son “deserved prison time” because he needed to be held accountable for his actions. Bob Woods further extended his sympathies to the Oates family, saying: “We haven’t gone an hour without thinking of you guys.”

Friends and family on both sides spent more then two hours during the sentencing telling the judge how Danny Oates’ death has not only changed their lives but their community. It was a tearful room with Kleenex being constantly passed around.

Jeffrey Woods’ neighbors, friends and former teacher said he was a kind and compassionate man who helped others and had no malicious bone in his body. Woods was also sentenced to three years parole, had his driver’s license revoked for three years and will be required to pay $28,000 in restitution to the Oates family.

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