An East Palo Alto man who prosecutors said was smoking crack as he led police on a chase that ended in the death of a motorcyclist was sentenced to 59 years to life in prison today, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. Eric Anthony Banford, 48, was given the maximum possible sentence today after being found guilty in July of charges including second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, felony evading a police officer and hit-and-run causing great bodily injury or death, Wagstaffe said.
Banford was convicted in connection with the Sept. 28, 2011, death of motorcyclist Danny Dixon, who he struck on University Avenue during a police pursuit. Police were pursuing Banford in connection with a reported home break-in. Prosecutors said he had been using cocaine and alcohol, and was speeding and disregarding his passengers’ pleas for him to stop at the time of the collision.
Banford’s previous convictions include voluntary manslaughter for a March 1991 incident in which he punched a person during a drug robbery in East Palo Alto, killing the victim, Wagstaffe said. He was sentenced to 16 years in that case and served eight. Wagstaffe said the victim’s wife read a “very emotional” letter about how much she missed her husband, and asking the court to please punish the man who took him away.
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