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A man convicted twice of vehicular manslaughter received a maximum three-year prison sentence last week for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Manuel Perez, 67, of Woodland, was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on Interstate 5, on June 9, 2019, after being pulled over for driving in excess of 95 mph while intoxicated.
Perez was previously arrested for DUI in Colusa County in 2004, but his criminal history behind the wheel goes back even father, officials said.
Perez was first arrested in 1976 for vehicular manslaughter in Stockton, which was followed by a DUI in Woodland on April, 7, 2001, a DUI in Colusa, on May 09, 2004, driving on a suspended license and refusing to take a DUI test, in Woodland, on May 15, 2010, driving on a suspended license and failing to stop at a stop sign, in Woodland, on Nov. 20, 2011, all of which resulted in some jail time and fines.
Perez was later arrested and convicted for causing the death of Denis Fred Bartz Sr., 61, of Knights Landing, on July 31, 2013.
Bartz was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision on County Road 85 near Road 15B, which the CHP said occurred when Perez turned left from a gravel road directly in front of Bartz, who was riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Bartz reportedly struck the left front of Perez’s Ford Ranger and was thrown from his motorcycle, suffering fatal injuries after striking the roadway, the CHP reported.
Bartz died at the scene, and Perez was sentenced in Yolo County Superior Court to four years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.
According to court documents, Perez admitted to a lifetime of alcohol abuse, and that previous attempts to stop drinking had no long-term success.
At the time of his 2019 arrest in Colusa County, Perez had a blood alcohol level of .13; he reeked of alcohol and was driving on a suspended license, court records indicate.
“It could very well have led to a third manslaughter,” said County Deputy District Attorney, Winston Welch, who prosecuted the case.
Although his defense attorney, David Nelson, pleaded for five years probation – and a promise from Perez to never drive a vehicle again – Colusa County Superior Court Judge said Perez remains a danger to society.
Perez, who was out on bail prior to his Feb. 26 hearing, was taken into to custody inside the courtroom and transported to the Colusa County Jail for transport to state prison. ■