The California Supreme Court has agreed to review the case of a Redwood City man who killed an 8-year-old girl in 2007 when his speeding Mercedes slammed into a vehicle carrying a mother and two children.
A state appeals court in March reversed Richard Tom's 2008 conviction of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, finding that his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when a prosecutor argued at trial that Tom's failure to inquire about the victims in the hours after the accident suggested his guilt.
The state high court review was announced this week at the request of the attorney general's office. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office supported the attorney general's decision to appeal.
Tom, 50, broadsided Loraine Wong's Nissan Maxima on the evening of Feb. 19, 2007, as she turned from Santa Clara Avenue onto Woodside Road in Redwood City. The collision injured Wong and her 10-year-old daughter Kendall and killed her 8-year-old daughter Sydney, according to court documents. A jury acquitted Tom of charges of committing vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated but convicted him of a lesser charge.
The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled March 19, however, that it was improper for the DA's office to have suggested, both during questioning of police officers and closing statements, that Tom's silence after his arrest but before he was read his Miranda rights implied he was guilty.
"Obviously we're disappointed that they decided to review," Zilversmit said. "(The March reversal) was a good decision to begin with."
Tom was sentenced in 2009 to seven years in state prison. After his charges were reversed Tom was freed on $300,000 bail.
Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.