A man who struck and killed a motorcyclist after fleeing East Palo Alto police was convicted of second-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter on Wednesday, July 24, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
Eric Anthony Banford, 48, of East Palo Alto led police on a high-speed chase on University Avenue when he hit resident Danny Dixon, 50, in a head-on collision on Sept. 28, 2011.
Officers investigating a burglary at 5:15 a.m. had attempted to stop Banford as he walked down the street. Banford jumped into a friend's waiting Land Rover and sped away with two passengers. He drove with his lights off and went through stop signs and red lights at speeds up to 70 miles per hour.
The two Passengers yelled at Banford to stop, but he refused; during the chase he lit a crack pipe, police said. Banford drove east on University Avenue in the oncoming lane. As he approached University Avenue and Bay Road he swerved to avoid an oncoming truck in the fast lane and struck Dixon, who was on his way to work.
The Land Rover continued for 25 yards. Banford jumped out and fled on foot. Police apprehended him at 1640 Bay Road.
The jury took one day and 45 minutes to reach their verdict. They convicted Banford of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, reckless evading causing serious injury and felony hit and run. He faces 35 years to life. He will return to court for sentencing Nov. 1.
Banford was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1991, which was reduced from a murder charge. In that case, he fatally punched the victim in the head during a drug robbery on March 31, 1991, according to the DA's office.