Multiple DUI offender convicted in fatal accident |

Multiple DUI offender convicted in fatal accident

Staff Reports

A Lake Tahoe man with a long history of drinking and driving was convicted last week of being under the influence when he struck and killed a pedestrian by an El Dorado County jury.

Larry Lee Halverson, 61, had been out of prison for a little more than a year when he hit pedestrian Patrick Purnell, 51, while Purnell was crossing Ski Run Boulevard near Highway 50 on Sept. 4, 2011. Purnell died 31 days later from his injuries.

Convicted of a second felony DUI in Douglas County in 2009, he faced up to seven years in prison. He was paroled by the Nevada Department of Corrections on July 29, 2010.

The jury found Halverson guilty of gross negligence vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run causing injury. The jury heard testimony that Halverson’s driver’s license was suspended for DUI, and he was under the influence while driving a Nissan Pathfinder on Ski Run Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe, when he struck and killed Purnell.

Chief Assistant Bill Clark and Deputy District Attorney Katie Dobler prepared the case for trial, presented the evidence to the jury, and examined the witnesses which led to a guilty verdict.

Halverson had eight prior driving under the influence convictions leading up to this most recent conviction and faces sentencing under the 1996 amendment to gross negligence vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated known as “Courtney’s Law.”

The law provides for a 15 year to life sentence for habitual offenders with qualifying driving under the influence convictions.

Halverson is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 1, and is being held without bail in the El Dorado County jail.

“These types of habitual offenders threaten the safety and well-being of our community and my office will prosecute these offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” said El Dorado District Attorney Vern Pierson.

According to Halverson’s judgment of conviction he was sentenced by Douglas County District Judge Dave Gamble on Jan. 13, 2009, to 2-6 years in prison and fined $2,000.

He was given credit for 85 days time already served in jail.

Halverson had a blood-alcohol content of .18, more than twice the legal limit of .08 for driving in Nevada, when he was arrested Oct. 21, 2008, in the Stateline casino core.

He served 18 months of his sentence before he was paroled.