Category: Seizures Comments: 28 comments

In a very sad story from California, Armando Gonzales was convicted of second-degree murder last week. I wrote about him before (https://fallingdownfunny.com/2014/02/14/district-attorney-be-afraid-of-epileptics/). Mr. Gonzales had a seizure while driving and hit and killed Ms. Ruth Morales (1).

Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor was prosecuting this case as what is known in California as a “Watson Murder.” (2)

In 1981, in the California Supreme Court, there was a case known as People V. Watson (ibid). The result of that case was that people who cause a fatality while driving under the influence could from that point be charged with second-degree murder. For this to happen, three conditions need to be met:
1). The death resulted from an intentional act.
2) The natural consequences of that act are dangerous to human life.
3) You knowingly acted with conscious disregard for that fact.

I can read the news stories of the case and the California descriptions of the Watson law and understand completely how this case was lost. Mr. Gonzales was a seizure patient. He drove a car and that act was dangerous to human life. His act had disregard for that fact. This was an open-and-shut case.

And yet Mr. Gonzales’ neurologist said it was ok for him to drive. The state (well, the DMV) said it was ok for him to drive. How many steps does a person have to go through before that person is allowed to live a life again? How long does he have to wait? The state of California says you must be 6 months seizure free and he waited 6 months. And then a judge declared him a murderer.

A drunk driver in California is charged under the Watson law because that person goes out, gets drunk, and knowingly gets behind the wheel of a car. We did not ask to have seizures. We do not willfully go out and cause them to occur. Quite to the contrary, having epilepsy is the bane of our existence. For many of us not only has it seriously challenged our ability to enjoy our lives for more than fifty thousand of us a year it will actually kill us.

I do feel horribly for Ruth Morales. This is a sad story that never had a chance of having a decent ending. But throwing Mr. Gonzales in jail doesn’t make it any better. All Ms. Zambor has done is send a message to everyone living with epilepsy in the state of California that no matter how long it has been since you had a seizure, no matter what your doctor says, no matter what the law says – watch out: the district attorney will come after you if you fall down on her watch.

1- http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/crime-fire-courts/driver-convicted-of-murder-for-epilepsy-related-fatal-crash/
2 – http://www.shouselaw.com/watson-murder.htmlemail
3 – http://www.epilepsy.com/driving-laws


  • eileen  says:

    If he knowingly drove while his seizures had not been under complete control for the time required by state law in which he was licensed to drive, then yes, he knowingly committed an intentional death. How was it intentional? He knew his seizures were not under control as defined by the state law. In this case, it would be like driving under the influence. If on the other hand, he has proof that his Doctor approved him to drive, then the Doctor is likely at fault. A judge will ultimately make the decision.

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      I would have to agree – and yet all of the articles say he was cleared to drive by the DMV and his neurologist. What is the criteria, then for “under control?”

  • Shonni Tidwell  says:

    We are not Murderers, I blame the Doctor and Dmv for this.

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      I agree.

      • Rochelle Rule  says:

        I do not feel justice has been done here! If this person had lied to their doctor and DMV in order to get those license, then that would be different. But that is not what I’m hearing, what’s more I personally would never put another person, nor mine, or my family’s at risk by driving when my seizures are active!!

        • Mark Hawkins  says:

          He was also found guilty of perjury. He certainly might have lied. There are several articles floating around the web that claim that Mr. Gonzales falsified his paperwork to be able to drive. I don’t know what to make of that.

          It is a complicated issue no matter how you want to look at it.

  • Shonni Tidwell  says:

    I am also Epileptic

  • Karla Groffel  says:

    As someone who lives with epilepsy and has had to have my driving taken away by 2 states and then cleared for driving for both states (oone of which is california) it is not the fault of the driver or the doctor or dmv, as sad as this is and sad as it is to say you can go months even yrs without having a siezure and take your meds regularly eat right and do everything your supposed to and one day out of no where a seizure can and for most will happen, and it’s doesn’t care if your driving, working or laying in bed they hit out of nowhere and when they want. I’m sorry to this lady and her family but sometimes accidents just happen there’s no one to blame and it may help those family members to have someone to blame but it won’t make anything better or change the situation. So to those acting holler then tho stop pointing fingers and put yourself in that man’s place imagine how he already feels and what he’s already lived his life with. If ypu don’t live it your just another shit talker.

  • Perky  says:

    This is outrageous. If he did not have them under control and lied, YES HE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE….. I am a epileptic, but they have ways to control seizures most of the time, I have went even so far TO HAVE BRAIN SURGERY, I HAVE HAD 25% OF MY RIGHT TEMPORAL LOBE REMOVED…. I AM NO MURDERER. I DON’T LIKE THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE ONE BIT!!!!! IN SOME CASES PEOPLE CAN’T HAVE THEIR SEIZURES CONTROLLED, THEN NO THEY SHOULDN’T DRIVE PERIOD, THEN IT IS ON THEM…..

    • Perky  says:


      • Mark Hawkins  says:

        i myself often do not have auras…sometimes they come out of nowhere…

        • Perky  says:

          no i know some do not everyone

          • Mark Hawkins  says:

            absolutely – not everyone

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      i don’t know if i agree (and i am sorry you don’t like the title – it is a comment on the judgement, not you) – but i appreciate you taking the time to make a comment

  • Daisy aka "Maria"  says:

    Hi Mark,

    I know dis off subject but jes wanted to say how much i really enjoyed being funny on stage with you during one of your shows on Carnival Fascination last week! I cant believe all the recognition i received afterwards! I have been a true clown since my middle school years but i never had the nerves to attempt stand up! Thanks for sharing your spot light, its truly a moment i will never forget! If you ever desire to team up with “drunken Maria” (My ship name!)again please look me up! I ant hard ta find! lol, Take care of yourself Mark, I wish you all the best!

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      It was nice meeting you, too, and thanks for taking part in the show…

  • Jessica  says:

    I wouldn’t call him a murderer. People eith epilepsy want to be just like everyone else and maybe he jad been seizure free for awhile but calling someone a murderer for driving because its hard not to be able to

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      i wouldn’t call him a murderer either. I was trying to be sarcastic. Hard to do that in a blog, i guess. Thanks for the comment.

  • Belle Leal  says:

    Epileptics aren’t murders our seizures are

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      Not exactly sure what you mean, but seizures certainly kill a lot of people.

  • Kelley Jones  says:

    A sad fact about seizures and life in general. Thank you for sharing,

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      I agree. And thank YOU for taking the time to comment.

  • Hailey Miller  says:

    CBD is one of many compounds, known as cannabinoids, that are found in the cannabis plant. Researchers have been looking at the potential therapeutic uses of CBD. And it can help also to cure illness including epilepsy i read on this https://www.worldwide-marijuana-seeds.com/blogs/marijuana-news/strain-review-big-kush-by-dinafem-seedsthat i know it will help you lot with your going through right now. Its hard to have a problem like that. hoping that i help you with that.

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      I am a supporter of CBD, but you should know that there are as many types of seizures as there are types of cancer. CBD oil does not work for all seizures. It has been a miracle for some, but it is not effective for all. While i appreciate your comment (and sales pitch), it is kind of annoying for people like me to have people say to us, “i know it will help a lot with what you are going through.” you do not know that. you just want to sell your product. or maybe you enjoy pushing your narrative. it is irrelevant. please know that people who are dealing with epilepsy and seizures are having genuine issues and you are doing us NO favors by coming on here and saying, “here! this will help you!” please leave that advice to medical professionals.

  • margie ridgen  says:

    Have you ever heard about these foods infused cannabis? I tried frozen yogurt infused cannabis before and it really tastes good! and now, there’s new and something interesting! On the other hand, Ingesting Cannabis has a side effect that can lead you addiction because of its high dosage that you’ll never know how much dosage that food blimburnseeds.com/news/marijuana/news/industry/cannabis-in-la-kyle-kushman-and-vegamatrix/

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      thank you for your comment, ms. ridgen. i am very pro-cannibis, but it does not actually help for the kind of seizures i have. while it has been very effective for many, a lot of us are not actually assisted by ingesting cannibis. again, i am not discounting its’ wonders and i would actually question how addictive it is – but i would caution those excited to urge their doctors to put them on marijuana that its’ success rate is a lot like the success rate of all the other seizure medications out there: finding your “magic bullet” is a process and you need to be patient…stay positive…have faith that you will find those steps to help you manage your life…

      but managing your life is not going to simply come with a single article on the internet…

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