A San Diego court returned a guilty verdict in the felony reckless driving case against Matthew Pocci, a man who drove into a 2014 Comic-Con crowd that included participants in a zombie-themed parade. A 64-year-old woman was severely injured in the crash.
As Deadline reports:
On his way out [of] the San Diego Convention Centre that day, the now 47-year old Pocci testified in the weeklong trial that he felt “very nervous” while costumed revelers and pedestrians filled the streets. Along with the hearing impaired Pocci, his girlfriend, her mother and her 9-year old son were also in the car – the two other adults are also hearing impaired.
As evidenced by the many updates in this earlier Deadline article—written just after the incident in late July 2014—despite many witnesses and even video of the accident, it took some time to piece together what actually happened and who was at fault. And it took some time to charge Pocci—he wasn’t brought up until March, at which time NBC San Diego offered this update on the case:
Pocci, describing the events through an American Sign Language interpreter Wednesday, mostly blames the commotion of the crowd for the woman’s injuries. He signed that charges should be brought against a man who banged on his windshield causing him to panic and drive away.
He signed that the crowd was out of control, banging on his car, screaming things at him and his family that none of them could hear or understand, and opening the car doors.
“I was so nervous that someone was going to come into my car that I tried to go through a little bit slowly, but that’s when someone banged on my windshield,” Pocci said. “That’s when someone banged on my windshield and you know cracked the glass and after that I was so petrified that I decided to just go through.”
Jurors had to decide whether they felt Pocci was angered by the crowd, or frightened, and which emotion guided his decision to step on the gas. The woman he hit, Cynthia Campbell, was photographing the zombie parade, not participating in it; her injuries were so severe that her arm “had to be reattached.”
San Diego County’s Deputy District Attorney, Anthony Campagna, told NBC San Diego that Pocci’s deafness was merely incidental to the case.
“He got frustrated and did not want to communicate with the people telling him to stop,” the prosecutor said. “We prosecute people based on if they committed a crime. We look at the facts and do not give someone a free pass because they have a disability.”
Pocci now faces up to three years in prison. He’ll be sentenced next week. ZombieWalk—which had happened for eight years leading up to the 2014 accident—was not held at the 2015 Comic-Con; the event’s official Facebook page, which hasn’t been updated in over a year, still notes “We have not made a decision on future events.”
Top image via the Zombie Walk: San Diego Facebook page.