Closing arguments were completed, and the criminal case arising out of the July 2003 downtown Santa Monica Farmers’ Market tragedy went to the jury at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October 6. The downtown Los Angeles courtroom was dark for Columbus Day, and jury deliberations resumed Tuesday morning, October 10.
All 10 counts of vehicular manslaughter originally charged against George Russell Weller were given to the jury. Weller, now 89, was the motorist who drove through the outdoor market, leaving 10 persons dead and more than 60 injured. Prosecutors argue that he acted with gross negligence while attempting to get away from an earlier fender-bender, subjecting him to criminal liability for vehicular manslaughter.
Weller contends that “pedal error” – confusion between the accelerator and the brake pedals – caused the accident that, although tragic, is without criminal consequences.