Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento man’s murder trial nears end in violent I-80 crash that killed 4

Contra Costa County deputy DA calls deadly DUI case ‘horrific’

​Bail was set at $4.2 million Thursday for the Sacramento man prosecutors say was drunk when he plowed his Mercedes into a sedan near San Pablo late Saturday, killing two pairs of fathers and sons and injuring other motorists. Deputy District Atto
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​Bail was set at $4.2 million Thursday for the Sacramento man prosecutors say was drunk when he plowed his Mercedes into a sedan near San Pablo late Saturday, killing two pairs of fathers and sons and injuring other motorists. Deputy District Atto

Fred Lowe was drunk behind the wheel of his Mercedes when he killed two men and two of their sons before fleeing his wrecked sedan, Contra Costa County prosecutors are alleging at the Sacramento man’s murder trial, expected to wrap this week.

Testimony continued Tuesday in Contra Costa Superior Court in Martinez in the deaths of Daryl Horn, 50, of Napa and son Joe, 14; along with 52-year-old Troy Biddle and Biddle’s son Baden, 12, in the violent collision on a stretch of Contra Costa County freeway in November 2017. The four were related through marriage. The Biddles lived in Washington state.

Horn played baseball for Sacramento State in the late 1980s. His son Jared, a pitcher for UC Berkeley, was the only one in the car to survive the wreck.

The 48-year-old Lowe faces four counts of murder in the deaths along with charges of driving under the influence less than 10 years after a previous drunken-driving conviction, felony hit-and-run and leaving the scene of a wreck. He remains in Contra Costa County custody in lieu of $4.2 million bail in the case.

Lowe had a long history of drunken-driving arrests, with three DUI convictions and five suspensions between 1999 and 2012, state Department of Motor Vehicles and Sacramento Superior Court records show.

Contra Costa district attorney’s prosecutors were quick to file murder charges in the case. California law allows prosecutors to file murder charges in drunken-driving deaths when the alleged drunken driver is a repeat offender.

Prosecutors say Lowe was driving on a suspended license when he struck the Horns’ sedan on eastbound Interstate 80 near San Pablo Dam Road about 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2017.

The force of the collision sent the Horns’ vehicle tumbling over the median and into westbound traffic, where it slammed into a sedan and a sport-utility vehicle. Five people, including a child, in the westbound vehicles were hurt.

Prosecutors say Lowe drove onto a freeway exit before crashing into a parked car. He allegedly ran from his wrecked car, authorities said, but was soon captured.

Testimony in the case opened Feb. 18. Prosecutors expect to deliver closing arguments Thursday.

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Darrell Smith is The Sacramento Bee’s courts reporter. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.


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