Prison for man who drove drunk and caused crash that killed Rancho Bernardo retiree

By Kelly Wheeler

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A man who had 11 shots of whiskey and claimed he fell asleep before driving into the back of a car waiting at a stoplight in Carmel Mountain Ranch, killing a just-retired Rancho Bernardo man, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

Marc and Elaine Durham

Anthony Guarino, 57, was convicted Jan. 20 of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI charges in the death of 65-year-old Marc Durham. The defendant faced a maximum of 13 years behind bars.

Guarino was traveling about 55 mph when his BMW slammed into the back of Durham’s vehicle about 9 p.m. last Aug. 20, killing the father of five. Several other cars collided, injuring six people, including a child.

Guarino, who had no prior criminal record and served 20 years in the Marine Corps before working in the insurance industry, apologized to the victim’s family before he was sentenced.

“I made a terrible mistake. I’m sorry,” he said.

Defense attorney Brad Patton asked Judge John Einhorn to sentence Guarino to probation and jail time, or the low-term of four years in prison.

Einhorn denied a motion for a new trial, ruling there was sufficient evidence to uphold the jury’s verdicts.

In his closing argument, Patton said his client was asleep at the time of the crash and should have been acquitted of all charges, except misdemeanor DUI.

“(Prosecutors) have to prove he (Guarino) didn’t drift into a microsleep moments before the accident,’’ Patton told the jury.

The attorney said Guarino’s severe sleep apnea could have brought on the so-called microsleep as he approached the intersection of Camino del Norte and Paseo Lucido.

Guarino drifted into a lane and never hit the brakes, and when talking to paramedics, he had no memory of the accident, Patton said.

In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer said the defendant admitted he was impaired when he left a bar in National City.

She said Guarino had 11 shots of Jack Daniel’s whiskey at the bar before driving almost 30 miles to North County.

Durham, a movie buff who had retired a week earlier from his security job at General Dynamics, died at the crash scene.

Guarino’s blood-alcohol was measured at .15 percent about 2 1/2 hours after the crash.

By drinking that much and getting behind the wheel of a car, the defendant “in essence was playing a game of Russian roulette with other innocent drivers on the road,’’ the prosecutor told the judge today.

In sentencing Guarino to the middle term of six years in prison, Einhorn said he was giving the defendant credit for his military service and as a good family man with good standing in the community.

“You had so many chances to avoid doing what you did that night,’’ the judge said. “The law will not tolerate drinking and driving and the resulting carnage.’’

Durham’s daughter said her father had many friends.

“He had more friends than anyone I’ve ever known,’’ Melissa Durham said.

She said she would pray for the defendant.

“I pray that he doesn’t have to take a mound of pills to make it through the day,’’ she said. “I pray that he will never have to explain to his children that a loved one was killed by a drunk driver.’’

Elaine Durham, who was married to the victim for 43 years, said her life will never be the same.

“There’s a hole in my heart that will never mend,’’ she said.

She added that her husband volunteered at church to take care of the elderly and the sick.

“He was known as the Great Communicator by everyone who knew him,’’ Elaine Durham said.

Amy Durham, the victim’s daughter-in-law, said her 3-year-old son adored his “papa.’’

She said her son keeps asking why “heaven doesn’t have a phone to call papa.’’

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Posted by Steve Dreyer on Mar 11 2011. Filed under PQ, CMR, Sabre Springs, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Bernardo/4S Ranch (Click here for more stories). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Prison for man who drove drunk and caused crash that killed Rancho Bernardo retiree”

  1. Lynanne Reed

    I understand that he has served his Country , is a good citizen in his community, and he has his own family; HOWEVER, those attributes alone do not warrant such liency. I could be more understanding of liency if we were talking 2-3 JD shots over several hours. The decision to drive after 2-3 shots is still gravely chancing serious injury to himself/others; but, it might warrant "some" liency. However, his choice to down 11 shots of JD was clearly an indication of his STRONG DESIRE to get smashingly drunk. His choice to get RIPPED and then get gehind the wheel of a 2000 pound weapon was PURE INTENT to cause himself or some unknown, unsuspecting person serious harm and/or death. THAT decision and action deserves NO LIENCY! God bless all the friends and family of Guarino's selfish decisions and actions.

  2. Karen

    I think it is just disgusting that he only got 6 years. What kind of justice is that for Mr. Durham or his family? Not to mention the others he injured! You make the decision to drink 11 shots of Jack Daniels and then drive? The sad thing is that he will be out in 3 years to do it again. Anthony Guarino worked for Farmers Insurance as a representative that handled these kind of claims. I will never understand the justice system in this case and to claim sleep apnea, that is just a insult to the families. A mistake? You take a man’s life and it is a mistake? That is sick!

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