DOWNTOWN — The California Supreme Court on Thursday refused to review the conviction of George Russell Weller, the elderly man who plowed his car through a crowded Farmers’ Market in Downtown in 2003, killing 10 people and injuring 63 others.
As a result, his conviction stands, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Weller was 86 on July 16, 2003 when he drove his 1992 Buick LeSabre through wooden-and-plastic barricades and into the popular open-air market, sending bodies flying, witnesses said.
During the criminal trial, prosecutors said Weller was trying to flee a minor accident that occurred after he left the post office on Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue. Weller allegedly rear-ended a driver and then sped off toward the market. Though lasting less than 20 seconds, the mayhem claimed, among others, an infant, a 3-year-old, a married couple, a homeless man and an octogenarian.
Weller’s defense said he suffered from “pedal error” and was disoriented during the crash.
Weller was convicted in 2005 of 10 counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for one of the worst pedestrian tragedies in U.S. history. The jury decided he acted criminally after seeing images of carnage, including a body draped over the hood of Weller’s car and another beneath the wheels. Weller was sentenced to five years of probation. He is confined to his home and receives 24-hour nursing care, according to the Times.
The city of Santa Monica and other defendants agreed to pay $21 million to settle dozens of civil lawsuits arising from the crash.