Winchester man found guilty of second-degree murder in crash that killed CHP sergeant in Lake Elsinore

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A Riverside County jury on Friday, Aug. 27, found 39-year-old Michael Joseph Callahan guilty of second-degree murder in the crash that killed California Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Licon in 2019.

Callahan faces 15 years to life in state prison.

The jury took the case at midday Aug. 19. One juror was replaced after he read news coverage about the trial one day into deliberations. The new panel deliberated whether Callahan’s actions met the legal definition of implied malice: Did he know that driving under the influence was dangerous and did he demonstrate a conscious disregard for human life?

The defense did not dispute that Callahan caused the crash and was drunk at the time of the crash about 4:25 p.m. on April 6, 2019.

Callahan, after working an overnight shift at the Costco in Rancho Cucamona, consumed almost four 22-ounce beers with high alcohol content and three shots of tequila at Big Al’s sports bar in Ontario that day starting around 10 a.m. Some of his co-workers begged him to accept a ride home, but he refused, according to court testimony.

Licon, 53, a 27-year veteran of the force, was on his motorcycle patrolling the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore, where thousands of people had descended to view the poppy bloom. Licon was writing a ticket to a speeding motorist on the right shoulder near Lake Street when Callahan, driving 65 mph on the shoulder, slammed into Licon and his bike.

The bike was crushed between Callahan’s Toyota and the Chrysler that Licon had pulled over. Licon was pronounced dead at Inland Valley Medical Center.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.