Q: What happened to the young man who, while driving under the influence of drugs, struck and killed four dogs and a man while they were crossing Garfield Avenue in Carmichael?
A: Paul William Walden was convicted of second-degree murder, felony hit-and-run and gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of 21-year-old Harison Long-Randall.
Long-Randall, a Grass Valley resident, died 13 days after he was struck by Walden’s 1987 Nissan Maxima in the crosswalk on Garfield Avenue at Engle Road while crossing the street with his girlfriend, Gemily West, and her four dogs about 10 p.m. July 16, 2012. West’s dogs were killed and she suffered a broken leg. Long-Randall was credited with pushing West out of the path of Walden’s speeding car.
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Walden was sentenced in June 2014 to 25 years in prison. Now 36 years old, he is at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.
On the night of the collision, Walden was returning to the Sacramento area following a nonstop four-day drive from North Carolina, according to evidence presented during the trial. The prosecutor argued that circumstantial evidence indicated Walden had bought heroin and had shot up in a parking lot about a mile from the collision site.
Some witnesses put Walden’s speed at 70 mph or more when the crash occurred, according to stories in The Sacramento Bee.
Jurors rejected Walden’s testimony that he had fallen asleep at the wheel when he struck Long-Randall. The fact that he swerved before he went across the intersection and took out the stop sign was enough to show that he was awake at the time, the jury foreman said.
Authorities did not arrest Walden until three days after the crash, so prosecutors did not charge him with driving under the influence at the time of the collision. But they did charge him with driving under the influence when he was taken into custody. Blood tests showed he had marijuana and Xanax in his system when California Highway Patrol officers pulled him over to arrest him for his involvement in the crash. He was convicted on that count, too.