California man convicted of murder in DUI racing wreck that killed friend ejected from vehicle

A Fremont, California man was recently convicted of murder related to a 2018 drunk driving incident in which the man’s friend had been ejected and killed after the vehicle wrecked while being raced at high speed, The Mercury News reported.

That man is 34-year-old Tyler Underwood, who was also convicted on several other felony and misdemeanor charges, including child abuse, in light of the fact that his then-4-year-old daughter had been in the backseat of the car during the fatal incident.

Deadly accident

Local media outlet KRON reported that on the night of Oct. 9, 2018, an intoxicated Underwood had been racing his BMW against friends in another vehicle at speeds upward of 140 mph on a freeway when he lost control of the car and rolled it down an embankment.

In the car with Underwood was his young daughter, a female passenger, and another friend, Darren Walker, who had been ejected during the wreck, and whose body was not found until police further investigated the scene of the crash the following day.

Nobody in Underwood’s vehicle, nor the friends in the other vehicle, had said anything to the police about Walker, and the passenger of the second vehicle had initially lied and accepted the blame, at Underwood’s request, for driving the BMW, only for Underwood to finally admit weeks later that he, in fact, had been the driver of the wrecked vehicle.

In addition to the second-degree murder charge for Walker’s death, Underwood also faced other charges including driving under the influence (DUI) — his blood-alcohol content was near twice the legal limit — as well as reckless driving and speeding, driving on a suspended license, causing bodily injury to others, and endangering his child, among others.

Notably, Underwood already had five prior DUI arrests on his record over the previous 10 years, with the latest coming just a month and a half before the DUI wreck that killed his friend.

“That’s murder”

The Mercury News reported that Underwood’s public defender attorney, Michael Wu, had attempted to argue that his client had merely engaged in reckless behavior and didn’t deserve to be charged with murder, nor would he willingly endanger the life of his young daughter.

But prosecutors argued that that is exactly what Underwood did, and Deputy District Attorney Abigail Mulvihill asserted that he “drove under the influence. He knew that act was dangerous, because, gosh, he knows that better than anyone in this courtroom. And someone died. That’s murder.”

It would appear that the jury agreed, as the defendant was convicted of all felony charges that had been pressed against him.

The consequences

A press release from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, which outlined the basic facts and timeline of events leading up to the conviction, likewise noted that Underwood had been convicted on all four felony charges against him.

His sentencing hearing will likely take place in February and he faces, at minimum, 15 years behind bars, if not up to life in prison for his reckless and deadly crimes.

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