R. Scott Owens
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
Date: February 14, 2011
Public Information Officer
Assistant District Attorney
MAN IS SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON
AFTER PLEADING GUILTY TO DRUNK DRIVING CHARGE
A 51-year-old Truckee man with a history of violence and substance abuse has been sent to prison for 25 years to life after pleading guilty to a felony charge of driving in Placer County with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.
Douglas Harold Doyle, whose criminal record includes a 1987 alcohol-related vehicular manslaughter conviction in which a 52-year-old schoolteacher was killed, was given the lengthy sentence under the state’s three-strike law.
Placer County Superior Court judges agreed with a prosecutor’s assessment that Doyle had run out of chances, and they rejected a defense attorney’s motion to remove one or both of Doyle’s previous felony strikes prior to his Feb. 2 sentencing by Judge Colleen Nichols.
In an opposition motion filed last year with the court, prosecutor Christopher Cattran of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office cited five felony convictions, four misdemeanor convictions and four prior sentencings to state prisons, including one in Nevada, as proof that Doyle merited both a third felony strike for his latest DUI and the 25-years-to-life sentence.
Besides the manslaughter case, Cattran wrote about Doyle’s drug and drunken driving convictions, his repeated parole violations and two domestic violence convictions, including an incident in 2007 in which he injured a girlfriend by striking her in the abdomen with a sword.
“The defendant’s prior performance on parole and probation has been woeful,” Cattran wrote.
The prosecutor noted that Doyle had been released on parole from prison just four months before he was stopped on August 17, 2008, for driving erratically on Highway 89 near Alpine Meadows Road. His blood alcohol level was measured at 0.13 percent, Cattran wrote.
In his conclusion, Cattran wrote that Doyle, based on his criminal history, “is not outside the spirit of the three strikes law.”
“The defendant’s criminal conduct makes him a serious and continuing danger to society,” he wrote. “There is no reason for the defendant to escape the consequences of the choices he has made to repeatedly break the law.”
In an August 2010 pretrial hearing known as a Romero motion before Judge Larry D. Gaddis, Doyle and his attorney sought to avoid the felony third strike by having one or both of his previous strikes stricken from his record.
They blamed Doyle’s criminal problems on the use of alcohol, and the defendant vowed to stop drinking and that he’d follow any court-ordered alcohol-abuse programs.
Also present at that hearing was the daughter of Julie Fenley, the Tahoe City schoolteacher who was killed by Doyle in the 1987 manslaughter case on Highway 89.
The daughter, Kathleen Fenley, spoke to the court and expressed reservations about Doyle’s ability to lead a crime-free life.
“I am concerned that Mr. Doyle’s behavior over the last 23 years indicates that he’s not willing to do the work to come out and be a contributing member of society,” Fenley told Judge Gaddis.
She said that she had known and seen Doyle for many years in both a professional capacity and within the citizenry of the Tahoe-Truckee community and that he had “caused people a lot of harm along the way – repeatedly.”
Fenley was concerned that Doyle, when drinking, might kill or harm someone else.
“My fear is that he will continue to drink and drive, continue to have a disrespect for the law and continue to commit crimes,” she told the court.
Gaddis denied Doyle’s motion to remove either of the two felony strikes in the August hearing, and Doyle subsequently entered a guilty plea in December to driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher with a prior conviction for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Doyle also admitted to special allegations of having the two prior strikes and to special allegations of having served prior prison terms.
At Doyle’s sentencing last week, Judge Nichols denied a renewed motion by the defendant to have one or both strikes stricken from his criminal record.