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Deaf motorist convicted of hitting pedestrians during 2014 Zombie Walk

Deaf motorist convicted of hitting pedestrians during 2014 Zombie Walk
Matthew Pocci is charged with reckless driving in an incident involving Zombie Walk marchers outside the 2014 Comic-Con convention in San Diego. (KSWB-TV)

A San Diego jury Wednesday convicted a deaf motorist of felony reckless driving for hitting several pedestrians in 2014 during the Zombie Walk outside the Comic-Con convention.

Matthew Pocci Jr., 47, was driving with his girlfriend, her sister, and the sister's 9-year-old child, when he stopped to let Zombie Walk marchers pass by. But after waiting for several minutes, he honked his horn and began moving forward.

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"They were banging on the car -- making it rock a bit," he testified in San Diego County Superior Court, with the help of a sign-language specialist.

As Pocci accelerated to escape the crowd, he struck several pedestrians, video showed. A 64-year-old woman who was taking pictures of the marchers was injured.

Pocci faces a possible three-year prison term when sentenced Dec. 11.

Pocci's attorney told jurors to put themselves in the place of a deaf person whose perception of reality is different from that of a person with normal hearing.

"This case comes down to confusion and fear," attorney Ashby Sorensen said. Pocci became scared, he said, "when those two jerks sat on the hood of his car."

But the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Anthony Campagna, said Pocci made a decision to act in a dangerous manner. After becoming annoyed at the marchers, "he was now going to take matters into his own hands," Campagna told jurors.

For nine Comic-Cons, the Zombie Walk was a highly anticipated although unofficial part of the annual counter-culture festival.

Hundreds of zombie fans in frightening costumes and bloody-looking makeup marched through the Gaslamp Quarter in stumbling, menacing style.

In the wake of the 2014 incident, Zombie Walk organizers canceled the walk for the 2015 convention.

Pocci was charged with felony reckless driving causing bodily injury. He had been working at Comic-Con prior to the incident.

Twitter: @LATsandiego

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