Sakamoto to Be Retried in Penhall Case

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The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced in court on Dec. 12 that it  will retry defendant Tatsuhiko Sakamoto of Arcadia, according to Shiara Dávila-Morales, chief of the office’s Media Relations Division.

The hearing at the Pomona Courthouse was held to determine whether the prosecution will seek to retry Sakamoto on a murder charge in the death of Connor Penhall of Corona, the 21-year-old son of motorcycle racing champion and “CHiPs” actor Bruce Penhall.

The first jury deadlocked on the murder count but convicted Sakamoto, 37 at the time of the crash, of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol content, causing great bodily injury.

The younger Penhall, who also competed in motorcycle races, was working for a Caltrans subcontractor on the westbound San Bernardino (10) Freeway at Francisquito Avenue in Baldwin Park when he was struck by Sakamoto’s Toyota Rav4, which plowed through traffic cones, around midnight on April 4, 2012. Penhall was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim’s parents have filed suit against Caltrans and one of its contractors, alleging that safety violations contributed to the fatal crash. Sakamoto and the California Highway Patrol are also named as defendants. The suit alleges that there were no barricades to obstruct Sakamoto’s path.

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