Crime - Sacto 911

Man accused of plowing his car into bicyclists near West Sacramento awaits jury verdict

Jonathan Jackson’s bike lies on the road after the 17-year-old cyclist was struck by a car. Alamar Cyril Houston is accused of deliberately striking a group of cyclists.
Jonathan Jackson’s bike lies on the road after the 17-year-old cyclist was struck by a car. Alamar Cyril Houston is accused of deliberately striking a group of cyclists.

Jurors have been deliberating since Friday in the trial of a man accused of intentionally plowing a stolen vehicle into bicyclists on a rural road near West Sacramento last year. As of Wednesday afternoon, they had not reached a verdict.

Alamar Cyril Houston, 39, faces 19 counts in Yolo Superior Court, including three counts of attempted murder along with charges of felony hit-and-run and assault with a deadly weapon connected to the violent incident June 30, 2015.

Deliberations began Friday. If jurors find Houston guilty, they will then hear testimony in another phase of the trial to determine whether he was legally sane at the time of the incident.

Yolo County prosecutors say Houston was in a methamphetamine-fueled rage when he sped down South River Road between Clarksburg and West Sacramento in a stolen sport-utility vehicle, shoving one cyclist off the roadway before ramming two teenage cyclists. One of the young people sustained a head injury so severe he lapsed into a coma but has since recovered.

Prosecutors said the collision on a popular cycling route was only part of a daylong crime spree that included a high-speed sprint down Interstate 5, the theft of the sport-utility vehicle from a Sacramento International Airport rental lot and an attack on a drugstore clerk. Houston was arrested after a pursuit into downtown and with the help of a police dog.

Yolo County Deputy Public Defender Dean Johansson argued in his closing remarks Friday that Houston suffered from a psychotic break that day that triggered the erratic, violent behavior, saying Houston’s blood showed no signs of methamphetamine or other narcotics after his arrest.

“The question is whether he understood what he was doing. That’s the issue,” Johansson said. “He’s driving in a psychotic state. What you have is a man detached from reality.”

Prosecuting Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton countered that Houston’s meth use, not mental illness, spurred his crime spree.

“We don’t have to prove whether the crimes made sense. All kinds of crimes are committed for all kinds of reasons,” Hamilton told jurors. “You have really bad, really malicious decision-making going on here.”

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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