Driver Pleads No Contest in Slaying of 2

Times Staff Writer

A 45-year-old transient, charged with killing two men by ramming them with his car at a Pacoima shopping center, pleaded no contest Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter.

Howard Earl Dunn entered his plea before San Fernando Superior Court Judge John H. Major in the Sept. 2 deaths of Charlie Holt, 52, and John Carter, 71, both of Pacoima.

Additional felony charges of harming a person by driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.20% are expected to be dismissed against Dunn as part of a plea bargain, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Kenneth L. Barshop. Dunn is to be sentenced May 18.

Dunn's blood-alcohol level of 0.28% was nearly triple the 0.10% state standard for intoxication when he drove his car into Holt and Carter, Barshop said.

Witnesses testified during Dunn's preliminary hearing that Holt and Carter were sitting against a parking lot wall behind the Mercado del Valle market when Dunn drove into them. People regularly sit beside the graffiti-marked wall in the evenings, said George Aldridge, a security guard who apprehended Dunn.

Witnesses said it appeared that Dunn drove into the men deliberately. Dunn was seen earlier arguing with two women and may have been trying to hit them, witnesses said.

After hitting the two men, Dunn drove his car out of the parking lot and crashed head-on into a car carrying four adults and one child, authorities said. No one in the car was seriously injured.

Aldridge said he had to hold back an angry crowd of 200 people before detaining Dunn.

Dunn faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison. He is being held in County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.

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