A jury found 24-year-old Richard Delgado III guilty today of second-degree murder for running over his neighbor.
In 2009, Delgado smashed his grandfather’s borrowed Honda into 46-year-old Donna Fife, who was about to call police for his dangerous driving. In years past, the young man had been in at least five other incidents of reckless driving, including 100 mph police chases and collisions. Delgado had been warned by his probation officer, a police officer and his neighbors that his reckless driving could kill someone.
Delgado, whose first trial on the charges last year ended with a hung jury voting 10-2 for guilt, is expected to be sentenced by the Hon. Michelle McKay-McCoy on April 19 in Dept. 26. He faces up to 15 years to life in prison.
“For years Richard Delgado has been living his life like a game of Grand Theft Auto. It’s not surprising that he killed someone,’’ James Leonard, who prosecuted the case, said. “It’s surprising that it took so long for him to do it.”
Delgado ran down Mrs. Fife at 11:23 p.m. on January 19, 2009. Earlier that night, neighbors saw Delgado doing donuts, leaving tread marks on the asphalt and smoke hanging in the air. Delgado then crashed his Lincoln Mark VIII into a neighbor’s fence and drove away. Ten minutes later, Delgado returned, got into another car, aimed it at Mrs. Fife, who had a cell phone in her hand and was ready to call police, accelerated and ran her over. Her husband was called from their house. He found his wife, a longtime NASA Aviation System and Reporting System employee and a gardener whose apricot preserves won a blue ribbon at the Santa Clara County Fair, mortally wounded.
A collision reconstruction expert examined the tread marks left by the Honda and determined that Delgado 1) accelerated rapidly but never lost control of the car 2) never made any attempt to stop or slow down before or after he struck Mrs. Fife and 3) ran her over with both the front and rear driver side wheels.
Delgado fled the scene but was apprehended two hours later when he attempted to return to his home.
While awaiting trial for the murder of Mrs. Fife, Delgado was convicted in 2012 of Assault by Means of Force Likely to Produce Great Bodily Injury and False Imprisonment, both felonies, from a 2008 incident unrelated to the murder of Mrs. Fife. Delgado is awaiting a further trial for his attacks on other inmates in the Santa Clara County Jail. If convicted of those charges he could have an additional two years added to his murder sentence.