News


Murder conviction in DUI case that killed Menlo Park couple

Marjorie Reitzell found guilty of second-degree murder in fatal crash

A woman who was driving drunk when her car struck and killed a Menlo Park couple in 2013 was convicted of murder on Wednesday, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Marjorie Reitzell, 55, of Menlo Park was convicted by a jury of two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, and drunken driving charges. The jury returned the verdict at 10:30 a.m. after deliberating little more than a day, according to Mr. Wagstaffe.

With enhancements for a high blood alcohol level as well as a prior DUI conviction from 2012, Ms. Reitzell faces a potential sentence of 36 years to life in prison, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

Ms. Reitzell had been drinking heavily throughout the day, and had been in a non-injury collision earlier that day, according to the prosecution. She had stopped at a liquor store before the fatal crash occurred around 7 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2013.

Her Honda veered off Chilco Street, striking Balbir Singh, 50, and Kamal Kaur Singh, 45, from behind. She then drove over the median, hitting another car that carried four teenagers, before slamming into a tree.

The Singhs had been walking their dog alongside the road. They died at the scene, leaving behind three teenage children.

Her blood alcohol level was measured at 0.23, nearly three times the legal limit, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

Ms. Reitzell is scheduled for sentencing on June 26.

During her trial last week, Ms. Reitzell took the stand to testify in her defense, telling the court that she is capable of driving safely while intoxicated.

Read an earlier story here.

— Sandy Brundage

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 20, 2015 at 4:52 pm

The prosecutor has an ironclad case. This trial was likely more about the penalty than the verdict. Double murder and repeat offender deserves life in prison.


12 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 20, 2015 at 9:01 pm

pogo is a registered user.

"During her trial last week, Ms. Reitzell took the stand to testify in her defense, telling the court that she is capable of driving safely while intoxicated."

Now she can try serving her sentence safely without it.

I want to thank the good jurors of San Mateo County for putting this unrepentant menace away for a long time.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"I want to thank the good jurors of San Mateo County for putting this unrepentant menace away for a long time."

That's up to the judge. Let's hope he or she puts her away for a long time.


2 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm

Does anyone know if the dog the Singhs had been walking survived? It would have been more tragic for the three teenagers they left behind if the family dog died with their parents.


5 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 21, 2015 at 6:14 am

A just and reasonable verdict. She is clearly still an ongoing that to public safety if not in jail. Lock her up and their away the key. Kudos to the prosecutor for a job well done.


4 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 21, 2015 at 6:50 am

pogo is a registered user.

Yes, Menlo Voter, you are absolutely correct.

More accurately, I should have thanked the jurors for convicting Reitzell of offenses that should reward her with at least 35 years in prison. I am certain that Judge Robert Foiles will provide her with an appropriate sentence.


5 people like this
Posted by East of 101
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 21, 2015 at 7:27 am

@Curious-The dog did survive. This is a great lesson to all of those who text; smoke weed; pop-prescription drugs or even are distracted while on the road. You put people in danger. Even though the intention might not have been to go out and kill anyone that night but that bad decision to drink and drive, in that one split-second, altered her life and the life of a family. Now a double murder conviction is the reality.
@POGO-I couldn't add to a previous comment regarding the 1 split second, 1 decision, 1 reality because someone made an objectionable comment to a previous trail.


6 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2015 at 2:19 pm

pearl is a registered user.

After being convicted on May 20th, Ms. Reitzell was allowed to go home, and ordered to return on June 26th for sentencing!!! Allowed to go home?!?! You're kidding!!! Is someone going to watch her 24 hours a day to make sure she doesn't get behind the wheel until then?!?


5 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

"During her trial last week, Ms. Reitzell took the stand to testify in her defense, telling the court that she is capable of driving safely while intoxicated."

??? Safe to whom? Not her unfortunate victims! Perhaps intoxication frequency has permanently damaged whatever brain she once had.

I'm curious - is there any financial benefit for the orphaned children available through victim restitution programs? i certainly hope so.


15 people like this
Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 21, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Marjorie Reitzell was NOT allowed to go home. She remains in custody and the judge granted the prosecution's request to revoke bail.


28 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2015 at 8:23 pm

As a juror on this trial, I can honestly say that we really gave her the benefit of the doubt; we could have convicted her in less than a day but many of us wanted to sleep on it. Ultimately, it was clear that her behavior that led to the deaths of the Singhs was beyond selfish and inconsiderate, and justified murder convictions as they were defined to us. What's most shocking to me is that she hasn't learned anything! I have no doubt that she would drive that drunk again without hesitation--even after KILLING two people. She is a danger to society. She might as well be walking around Times Square drunk with her finger on the trigger of a loaded gun with the safety off. It's extremely hard to be a factor in convicting someone of murder, but I can sleep at night. We had a terrific bunch of jurors, and I have the utmost respect for Judge Foiles, who I believe will sentence her fairly.


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2015 at 9:24 am

I was also a juror on this case and agree with everything said the previous juror posting. Unfortunately there were no winners here. Very sad situation. Proud to be a juror in San Mateo Co. and felt that the 12 of us gave the defendant a fair verdict based on the facts of the case.


8 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 22, 2015 at 12:40 pm

pogo is a registered user.

I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the former jurors and thank them for their service.


2 people like this
Posted by Lesley
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on May 22, 2015 at 4:55 pm

I am glad she has been convicted of murder and will, I'm sure, receive an appropriate sentence.
I hope this is a heads-up for people who drink and drive and who believe as she did that they can drive safely after after drinking. I'd like them to to realize that but for chance, they too could kill someone while under the influence. It's just luck that they, so far, haven't killed or injured someone. I can't say that I never drove under the influence, but I was lucky and was never caught. I'm now older and wiser and no longer drink and drive.


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 23, 2015 at 8:09 am

There's another DUI double murder case going on in the East Bay right now: Web Link

I'm glad that the authorities are finally taking these cases seriously and charging the perps with murder instead of just calling them "accidents". DUI is never an accident.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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