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Menlo Park: Driver charged with murder in alleged DUI double fatality

Marjorie Reitzell facing second-degree murder charges in deaths of Menlo Park couple

An extensive history of driving under the influence and an earlier car accident the same day led to the filing of second-degree murder charges against a driver who struck and killed a Menlo Park couple out for a walk, according to the district attorney.


Marjorie Reitzell, 54, now faces charges of second-degree murder. (Photo courtesy of San Mateo County Sheriff)
After a preliminary hearing in San Mateo County Superior Court on Thursday, a judge agreed the evidence supported the two additional charges against 54-year-old Marjorie Ann Reitzell of Redwood City. In November the defendant pleaded not guilty to earlier charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony driving under the influence.

She was arrested on Oct. 24 after a car crash killed Balbir Singh, 50, and Kamal Kaur Singh, 45, as they walked their Chihuahua along Chilco Street.

Early that evening. a 1998 Honda Accord driven by Ms. Reitzell struck the couple from behind, according to police. Investigators said the Honda kept going, over the center median and into the westbound lane. It hit another car and then collided with a tree before stopping.

The Singhs left behind three teenage children, with their oldest daughter scheduled to start college this year.

Testing reportedly determined that Ms. Reitzell's blood alcohol on Oct. 24 was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Convicted of a misdemeanor DUI in November 2012, she had a valid driver's license at the time of the fatal collision, according to law enforcement officials.

Mr. Wagstaffe said that her probation officer had warned the defendant that she could kill someone by drinking and driving. Ms. Reitzell allegedly engaged in a "lengthy pattern of drinking on the day of the offense," he told the Almanac, and had reportedly caused a non-injury collision earlier in the day on Oct. 24.

Prosecutors said they aren't suggesting she intended to kill anyone, but "taken together, it demonstrates the legal requirement for second-degree murder -- callous disregard for the safety of others resulting in death," Mr. Wagstaffe said.

Ms. Reitzell remains in custody on $2 million bail. The court scheduled her arraignment on the murder charges for June 20.

Comments

Posted by Walk on the LEFT!, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:08 pm

Terrible as this was, I am abhorred to daily see people walking, often with a child in a stroller, on the right side of the street and thus with their back to traffic. I shudder to think how foolish that is! There are so many distracted drivers out there who could run down such ignorant pedestrians. Wake up you foolish walkers! WALK ON THE LEFT facing oncoming traffic for your own safety!!


Posted by Really?, a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

@Walk on the left, as always when my 'are you seriously making this comment or trolling?' detector goes up I don't know why I bother responding...but anyway. Wow. Let me guess, in the next article that's about a car-on-car fatal collision you'll be commenting 'I'm abhorred [sic; I don't think that phrase means what you think it means] to daily see people driving non-armored vehicles....'

You see how stupid comments like this can be when you actually think about what you're writing?

What is it about people like you who have no sympathetic impulses in your body but enough time on your hands to leave comments blaming the victim?

How about blaming the Menlo Park PD or whoever it was who failed to impound her vehicle earlier in the day? Oh but jeez, lord forbid the police impose severe penalties on a driver who hasn't killed anyone--yet.


Posted by Holly L., a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Holly L. is a registered user.

Ok, so now that the Palo Alto Daily Post has reported that Judge Joseph Scott was arrested for a DUI, where's the Almanac story? He just as well could have mowed someone down, too, as the citizen in this story did.

Shouldn't the District Attorney of San Mateo have made sure that citizens know that government figures can commit DUI's too? Isn't the Judge Scott story bigger than this one ? It's shocking that the Post didn't discover this for two weeks and that no other paper has reported on this. The fact that Scott has sent people to prison for doing the same thing he has, yet somehow most of the press hasn't reported on this, is shocking. Elected officials like judges should be held to a higher standard. The DA's office seems to have no problem letting the press know about no name citizens who commit DUIs, but is curiously silent on judges who do.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Holly:

This is just another example of San Mateo County corruption. Business as usual. It will continue to occur as long as the sheeple of SMC continue to return corrupt officials like Munks and Wagstaffe to office. Wake up SMC!


Posted by little finger, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 8, 2014 at 5:53 pm

"Wake up SMC!"

More like.....

"Wake up (insert opposition party that should run someone who can file paperwork on time)!"

Don't blame the voters. Most of these guys run unopposed.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Holly, I had the same thought yesterday when I read the Post's article. Of course, given Reitzell's history, it's easy to focus on her - and also because she's not a person of influence. It seems that in many local stories, the Post and the Daily are more willing to bring the ugly truth about local leaders to light.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

little finger:

most of these people run "unopposed" for several reasons. Those that wish to oppose the entrenched corruptocrats are not willing to put themselves in harms way of the same.

The second is the sheeple of SMC don't get how mired in corruption this county is.

The third is that the "power brokers" of SMC like things just as they are, hence no support for anyone that goes against the status quo.


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