A jury on Wednesday found Demaria Harge guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend and her unborn child for driving drunk and crashing after a high-speed police chase on Interstate 5 near Westley.
Harge, 26, of Fairfield faces a maximum sentence of 33 years to life in prison. The jury convicted him on all five felony charges stemming from the 2014 crash that killed Taylor Little, 24, of Rio Vista and her unborn daughter, Concietta Little.
Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Rick Distaso scheduled Harge’s sentencing for June 7. At that hearing, Little’s family will have an opportunity to speak about the impact of her death.
Nah, I want to get this s--- over with.
Demaria Harge to the judge
The judge told the attorneys he could schedule the sentencing later this summer if the defendant was willing to waive his right to a sentencing hearing in a timely manner. “Nah, I want to get this s--- over with,” Harge told the judge.
Along with the murder charges, Harge was found guilty of gross-negligence vehicular manslaughter with intoxication, evading a police officer causing someone’s death, and driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury.
In her opening statement to the jury, Sophia Ahmad, Harge’s attorney, said “tragic” circumstances surrounded the death of Harge’s girlfriend and his unborn child. The defense attorney said her client is not guilty of murder, asking the jury to find Harge guilty of manslaughter.
The DUI charge stemmed from the injuries Cally Gregory suffered in the deadly crash. Gregory, Little’s friend, was riding in the back seat of the brown Lexus sedan Harge was driving on April 24, 2014. She testified about the abuse Little suffered while trying to get her boyfriend to slow down.
Harge, Little and Gregory were returning from Southern California that day. Deputy District Attorney Anthony Colacito told the jury Harge was experiencing stomach pains, the result of opiate withdrawal, and got into a dispute with his girlfriend. He said the defendant was drinking from a Patron tequila bottle while driving that day.
The prosecutor said in court that Harge dragged his girlfriend into the car by her hair, and he was slapping her as he drove north after she repeatedly warned him to slow down.
Little sent text messages to her mother that afternoon, asking her to call 911. Little was hoping authorities would pull over her boyfriend and get him off the road.
California Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Peregoy was called to respond to a report of domestic violence in a car heading north on Interstate 5. The officer stopped under an overpass and waited about 40 minutes before he saw Harge’s brown Lexus speed by at 110 mph.
Peregoy testified that it took about 3 miles to get within a reasonable distance behind the speeding car. Then, he spotted the Lexus move more aggressively in and out of freeway lanes. The officer said the Lexus at one point reached 130 mph.
When Harge spotted a California Highway Patrol vehicle following him, the defendant said “Oh, s---, I’m going to jail,” according to the prosecutor.
The Lexus veered to the right from the left lane before speeding down a ramp to the Howard Road/Ingram Creek Road exit. The Lexus then sideswiped a pickup before overturning onto its roof.
In Harge’s preliminary hearing last year, the prosecutor said he has a history of Solano County arrests on suspicion of driving under the influence, speeding and evading police. None of the cases ended in convictions because Harge failed to appear in court and face those charges.
Harge remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail as he awaits his sentencing next month.