A Santa Maria man was convicted of second-degree murder Wednesday for his role in a drunken-driving crash that killed another man near Arroyo Grande last year and now faces 23 years to life in prison.
William Mobley, 33, of Santa Maria, has a history of driving drunk, with two prior DUI incidents that occurred in Santa Barbara County. He was on probation during the Sept. 15, 2016, collision that took Richard Stabile's life, which prosecutors say Mobley caused when he knowingly drove drunk.
After a monthlong trial, a jury at the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court convicted Mobley on all five counts. Those counts included second-degree murder; gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; DUI causing great bodily injury; DUI with a blood alcohol level over 0.08; and fleeing the scene of a traffic collision, along with special enhancements of having two prior DUI convictions in Santa Barbara County, said Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner.
On Feb. 9, Mobley will be sentenced to 23 years to life in prison, according to Wagner.
"I'm pleased by the jury's hard work, and pleased that they followed all the laws," Wagner said Thursday. "We're also very proud of all the investigators' hard work in the case."
Mobley was originally charged with driving under the influence causing injury or death; driving with a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.08 percent causing injury or death; and hit-and-run with injury or death.
However, the District Attorney's Office amended the charges last year to include second-degree murder for Stabile's death due to Mobley's two prior DUI convictions, one of which included a hit-and-run charge.
The Watson Murder Rule allows prosecutors to charge an individual with second-degree murder for a DUI crash involving death when the person has multiple DUI convictions and there is evidence of implied malice.
Implied malice means the person is aware of his or actions, such as drinking and driving, has a high probability of causing great bodily injury or death and is engaging in the behavior regardless.
The fatality occurred around 2:20 a.m. Sept. 15, 2016, on southbound Highway 101, just south of El Campo Road near Arroyo Grande. Stabile, 68, and a co-worker had coffee in the Edna area after getting off work at Trader Joe's that morning and then parted ways. His co-worker was having car trouble when he happened to see Stabile driving down Highway 101, then flagged him down.
Stabile had parked his Toyota Camry behind his co-worker Jason Ross' Volkswagen Jetta on the right shoulder, and the two men stood on the embankment waiting for a tow truck. Both then got in to their respective cars to get out of the cold, according to court testimony.
Ross briefly lost consciousness after the Ford F-350 pickup truck collided with his vehicle. When he regained consciousness, he was on the passenger floorboard. Ross had been sitting in the driver's seat, a California Highway Patrol officer said.
Before crashing into Ross' car, Mobley hit Stabile's parked car, according to officials. He then reportedly fled the scene and continued traveling southbound on the highway before exiting Los Berros Road.
San Luis Obispo County sheriff's officials later caught and apprehended Mobley.