CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) — The allegedly drunk driver who killed a Madera father on Father’s Day and injured the man’s family as well is now fighting the charges against him, but new details from the case could make things even worse for the driver.
Ashton McKiearnan spent Father’s Day with his own father and his family at a home in Clovis.
The 41-year-old didn’t make it back to his own home because a car crossed into oncoming traffic and hit his vehicle head-on.
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Police say Narayana Zerr admitted to being the driver who caused the crash.
He had a blood alcohol content above .15% when he killed McKiearnan and injured the man’s wife and two kids.
“Today, Mr. Zerr will be entering a plea of not guilty with a general denial of any enhancements and allegations,” said public defender Regina Chessari.
Zerr made his first court appearance Wednesday on charges including gross vehicular manslaughter while driving drunk.
He has no prior DUIs in Fresno County, but court records show he was cited in 2019 for driving with a suspended or revoked license.
“If he had a suspended license, the DA’s going to want to look into why it was suspended,” said legal analyst Tony Capozzi. “Was it for a prior DUI?”
Prosecutors are checking Zerr’s record in other counties and states to see. A prior DUI would open up the possibility of elevating the charge to murder.
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Capozzi says the case against Zerr seems strong, so a defense attorney would have to look for mistakes in the police investigation.
He says even the location of the crash – on Ashlan near Sunnyside in the Tarpey Village area – could work against Zerr.
“The fact that this is a residential area makes this even more difficult for the defense which makes more of an argument for a higher sentence in this case,” Capozzi said.
Prosecutors say the maximum punishment for the current charges is 16 years in prison.
Zerr will be back in court next week.
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