Market owner: Singh pleads guilty to drunk driving fatal collision
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: November 07, 2012
A Santa Paula neighborhood market owner pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder and driving under the influence in connection with the May 2011 death of a Ventura bicyclist, just two days after his trial had started.
Satnam Singh, 50, pleaded guilty November 2 to the charges related to the death of 20-year-old Nick Haverland, who was struck and killed May 11, 2011 while riding his bike to Ventura College to take a final exam. Singh, 50, was driving a green Hummer that had already been involved in two hit-and-run incidents before his vehicle hit Haverland, who was riding with a companion.
Following the collision, Singh fled to his Ventura home about a mile away. A concerned citizen who followed him from the scene of the crash alerted police of Singh’s location and reported that he was still sitting in the heavily damaged vehicle he had parked on the driveway.
The trial began October 31 before Judge Bruce Young in Ventura County Superior Court after an attempt by Singh’s attorney for a change of venue was rejected.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Richard Simon told the jurors how Singh had a series of collisions as he headed west on Telegraph Road in Ventura. Near La Jolla Street in Ventura, Singh struck a mother and her 12-year-old daughter who were riding bicycles; both received broken arms and other injuries.
Singh did not stop, but continued west, and his Hummer rear-ended a family of three in a vehicle that had stopped for a red light near Petit Avenue, leaving them with minor injuries. Singh again did not stop, and near Mara Avenue his Hummer struck Haverland. Singh had a blood-alcohol level of 0.39 percent, nearly five times the legal limit of 0.08, according to the prosecution.
Singh changed his plea and pleaded guilty to the charges following two days of emotionally charged testimony, including from Haverland’s bicycling companion and fellow student and by a Ventura police officer, the first emergency responder on the scene.
Singh faces 15 years to life in prison. If he were to be paroled he would be subject to parole for the rest of his life.
Singh is being held without bail in Ventura County jail because he had speeding tickets before the trial began. He will go straight from jail to state prison after his sentencing, which the court scheduled for December 12.