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Judge Rules Cyclist Can Be Charged With Felony For Fatal SF Castro Crash

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - A San Francisco judge ruled Thursday that a bicyclist accused of killing a pedestrian in a Castro District crosswalk should stand trial for felony vehicular manslaughter rather than lesser charges sought by the defense.

Prosecutors have accused Chris Bucchere of allegedly running red lights and speeding prior to the fatal collision with an elderly man crossing the street.

Bucchere, who pleaded not guilty after felony charges were initially filed, has said he was "devastated" by the death of 71-year-old Sutchi Hui.

KCBS' Margie Shafer Reports:

Judge Weighs How To Charge SF Cyclist In Fatal Crash

His lawyer had filed a motion to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, disputing the prosecution's claim that Bucchere ran a red light.

The judge rejected that motion based on testimony from an expert witness for the prosecution who reconstructed the conditions of the crash using surveillance video.

"My calculations from the movement of the bicycle inside the intersection to the point of impact mirrored the fact that it was traveling in excess of 32 miles an hour," said Michael Mahoney, a traffic consultant who relied on footage from the Twin Peaks Tavern across the street.

The posted speed limit on that stretch of Castro Street is 25 miles per hour.

District Attorney George Gascón said eye witness accounts that described a cyclist going fast and ignoring traffic signals and road signs also support his decision to prosecute felony charge.

"His selfish motivation, his need for speed and his behavior were completely horrible," Gascón said after the judge's ruling.

Bucchere wept openly when the defense spoke of a blog in which he dedicated a story to his late helmet and not to Hui.

Legal experts believe this is the first case in California where a cyclist has been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter.

The judge suggested both sides meet before Bucchere returns to court on March 25. Gascón said he is open to fair and just resolution of the case.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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