Sidewalk Rampage Driver Is Sentenced to 106 Years
Daniel Lee Young, who was convicted of plowing a car through a crowd of pedestrians in Westwood last summer, killing one and injuring 48, was sentenced Friday to more than 106 years in state prison.
The sentence means that the 21-year-old Inglewood man must spend at least 57 years behind bars before he becomes eligible for parole, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. John H. Reid, who prosecuted the case.
“In my judgment, the defendant wrote his own punishment at the time he drove that car over the curb on Westwood Boulevard,” Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Jacqueline L. Weiss said as she sentenced Young. “My object is to impose the maximum sentence allowed by law, so as to ensure that Danny Lee Young never walks--or drives--our streets again.”
Young, who contended through his attorney that he was insane when he committed the crimes, listened passively as Weiss imposed judgment.
In asking for the maximum term, Reid was joined by the stepmother of Eileen Deutsch, the 15-year-old New York City girl who died after she was struck by Young’s car.
“She was pretty and vibrant, and she was alive,” Patricia A. Horton said haltingly of her stepdaughter. “And he murdered her. . . . Given the damage he’s done, I think he can only be given the maximum sentence.”
Probation Officer Barbara Gerlach made the same recommendation.
“Defendant seems horrifyingly indifferent to the vast emotional and physical carnage he has caused. He has disrupted, destroyed and permanently altered the lives of (hundreds) of people . . . ,” Gerlach said in a written report.
Reid said he thought Weiss’s action appropriate, “both in terms of the law and in terms of his (Young’s) conduct.”
Despite assertions by two psychiatrists during his trial that Young suffers from a severe form of paranoid schizophrenia, a Superior Court jury last month concluded that Young was legally sane July 27, when he drove his brother’s Buick onto the crowded sidewalk on the eve of the 1984 Olympics. The jury found that Young, even though mentally ill, was able to determine that what he had done was legally wrong.
Young told police shortly after his arrest that he planned the Westwood incident to draw attention to what Young described as a great injustice. He told police that Congress had passed a law requiring him to live in abject poverty and to write hit movies and songs for artists such as Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, for which Young would receive neither money nor credit.
According to trial testimony and the probation report, Young underwent brief psychiatric treatment in 1983, after he attempted suicide by dousing himself with gasoline. He was committed for 72 hours to the Lakeview Medical Center in Pacoima but refused to voluntarily stay there for further treatment.
Young’s brother, Larry, 25, along with his mother, Lula, watched Friday’s sentencing from the back of the courtroom. Later, Larry Young blamed the Westwood tragedy on a system of mental health care that, he said, was unable to deal with his brother’s problems.
“I’m sure the state is negligent,” Larry Young said. “All this could have been avoided . . . if he had been admitted to a state hospital years ago.”
Lula Young told the probation officer that her son had been classified as a slow learner since the first grade, but that his personality did not begin to deteriorate until three years ago, when he began having violent arguments with his siblings but had no memory of them the next day. Lula Young told Gerlach that her efforts to get help for her son were unsuccessful.
Technically, Young was sentenced to a term of 80 years and four months in prison for the 48 counts of attempted murder and given a consecutive sentence of 26 years to life on the murder charge, for a total sentence of 106 years and four months to life.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.