Farmer's market crash driver avoids jail

Nov. 20, 2006 at 3:19 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- An elderly man was given probation rather than being sent to prison for a horrific accident that killed 10 people at a Santa Monica, Calif., farmer's market.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson on Monday opted to allow 89-year-old George Weller to remain home due to his age and poor health despite his conviction on 10 counts of manslaughter.

The sentence was handed down following a series of statements made by family members of the victims.

Weller was behind the wheel of a Buick that plowed through the crowded street market in 2003, killing 10 people and injuring more than 60 others. Although Weller maintained he had stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brake, prosecutors charged him based on the relatively long distance he traveled without stopping.

KNBC-TV in Los Angeles said defense pre-sentencing filed with the court said Weller's health was in decline and that he suffered from a bad heart, prostate cancer and fluid on the brain.

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