Officer's DUI trial set to get started

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comApril 9, 2013 

— Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the trial of Merced County sheriff's Sgt. James Pacheco, who's accused of misdemeanor DUI.

During a Tuesday pre-trial hearing, Judge Ronald Hansen said potential jurors will be asked their personal opinions about alcohol, DUI accidents and law enforcement in general.

Kirk McAllister, Pacheco's attorney, said his goal is to ensure the jurors are impartial to those issues. "We're looking for a jury that's going to be fair and listen to all the evidence and not pre-judge for any reason," McAllister said.

Darren Indermill, deputy state attorney general, is prosecuting the case. Indermill said he couldn't elaborate about the case before trial.

Stanley Dorrance, a former criminalist for the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Forensic Services, is among the witnesses scheduled to testify for the defense. "This is the big show where we establish Mr. Pacheco's innocence," McAllister said.

Pacheco, 45, who unsuccessfully ran for the District 1 county supervisor seat last year, was arrested at his home in April 2011 by California Highway Patrol officers on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI.

A witness claimed to have seen Pacheco crash his GMC Yukon into his parked patrol car outside of his house.

CHP investigators reported finding empty beer cans in the GMC and think he was intoxicated from a party he had attended. The GMC's front bumper was resting against the rear bumper of the patrol car, but CHP investigators found no damage.

Several breathalyzer tests recorded Pacheco's blood alcohol content at 0.13 percent, according to court documents.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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