City News Service
The pilot of a Coast Guard patrol vessel that crashed into a smaller boat in San Diego Bay, killing a Rancho Penasquitos boy, was convicted Tuesday of dereliction of duty but acquitted of more serious charges of negligent homicide and involuntary manslaughter.
A Coast Guard jury in Alameda deliberated about a day before reaching its verdicts in the case against 22-year-old Boatswain Mate 3rd Class Paul Ramos.
Coast Guard spokesman Dan Dewell called it "an important step in the military justice process, and in determining the cause of this tragic collision."
"No legal ruling can restore lives lost or injured, and we know that recounting the details of a tragedy during a trial can be difficult for those affected by it," he said. "We take this opportunity to again extend our deepest sorrow and condolences to the victims of the crash and their families."
Ramos and his crew were in their 33-foot patrol vessel on their way to a boat stuck in the mud the night of Dec. 20, 2009, when it crashed into a civilian craft, killing 8-year-old Anthony DeWeese and seriously injuring several other occupants.
Ramos' lead attorney told the jury that the child's death was a terrible accident and not a crime, while military prosecutors argued Ramos needed to be held accountable for his actions.
The sentencing phase of the trial is now under way, Dewell said. Ramos faces a maximum of three months in jail, according to sentencing guidelines.
Ian Howell, the highest-ranking member of the patrol boat, faces a court-martial in May on charges of negligent homicide, assault and other counts.
Petty Officer Brittany Rasmussen pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty for her role as a lookout on the Coast Guard vessel and received a reprimand letter. Charges against Petty Officer Lavelle Teague were dropped due to lack of evidence.