|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0054
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
MARINE SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING DOCTOR IN HIGH-SPEED DRUNKEN DRIVING CRASH
SANTA ANA – A driver under the influence of alcohol was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for killing a radiologist and injuring the doctor’s wife in a high-speed crash after leaving Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton (Camp Pendleton), where he was stationed. Lance Corporal Elijah Leigh Ferguson, 22, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury Dec. 9, 2009, of one felony count of second degree murder, one felony count of driving under the influence causing injury, and one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more causing injury.
Prior to being released from duty for the weekend on Feb. 22, 2008, Ferguson participated in a mandatory standard safety briefing at camp Pendleton. The briefing covered the dangers of drinking alcohol and driving, and the instructors told the attending Marines that they would likely kill another person if they were to crash while driving intoxicated.
Sometime between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., Ferguson drank alcoholic beverages at Camp Pendleton after being released for the weekend. The defendant consumed alcohol for several hours and insisted that he was going to drive home to Santa Ana before passing out at approximately 7:00 p.m. in the barracks of another Marine due to intoxication. Fellow Marines, who recognized that Ferguson was intoxicated, went to get another lance corporal for fear that the defendant would attempt to drive when he woke up. While the defendant was passed out, the other lance corporal removed the car keys from the defendant’s pants pocket.
When Ferguson woke up, he demanded his keys and became belligerent including throwing trash on the ground from outside trash cans and breaking his cell phone against a wall. Several other Marines planned to drive Ferguson home to Santa Ana, but later arranged for the defendant to stay in the Camp Pendleton barracks.
At approximately 11:00 p.m., Ferguson asked a lower ranking Marine, a private first class, to get his keys and drive him home. When the private first class returned with Ferguson’s keys, the defendant pulled rank and ordered the lower ranking Marine to give him the car keys.
At 11:53 p.m., Ferguson was driving approximately 75 mph in a 50 mph zone heading eastbound on MacArthur Boulevard in Newport Beach. As he approached the intersection at Jamboree Road, Ferguson failed to hit his breaks or slow down and crashed his Dodge Caliber into the back of an Aston Martin, driven by 63-year-old Michael Sein, who was waiting at a red light. The victim’s car spun out before coming to a stop. Michael Sein, a radiologist who lived with his wife, Grace Sein, in Newport Coast, was transported to Hoag Hospital, where he died approximately 30 minutes later due to severe blunt trauma to the head. Grace Sein, who was riding in the passenger seat, was transported to Western Medical Center and treated for bleeding in her brain and back injuries.
Ferguson was also transported to Western Medical Center to be treated for a broken ankle. Approximately one hour after being admitted into the hospital.