A 36-year-old man accused in a suspected drunken driving crash that killed a California Highway Patrol sergeant on the shoulder of a Southern California freeway was charged with second-degree murder, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Michael Joseph faces second-degree murder in the death of California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon, a 53-year-old veteran months away from retirement, who was killed while making a traffic stop on Interstate 15, officials said.
Prosecutors decided to charge him with murder partly because he has a 2004 misdemeanor DUI conviction, according to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office. In that case, he was sentenced to three years summary probation.
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As a condition of probation, the defendant was required to attend Mothers Against Drunk Driving classes.
Licon was loved and respected by many. Flags were lowered to half staff. Mourners placed flowers and balloons at a makeshift memorial.
"The best guy you could ever know," said Officer Shawnie Greer who stopped by the Riverside CHP office to pay her respects. "He was always sweet, always polite.
"It took an innocent life away from his family, his two girls and wife and all of us in law enforcement."