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Brian Surewood To Face Murder, Vehicular Manslaughter and Reckless Driving Charges

VAN NUYS, Calif. – With no trial date set as yet, the preliminary hearing for Brian Surewood concluded Wednesday.

According to a story reported on by AVN’s Mark Kernes, Judge Leslie A Dunn ruled that Surewood and co-defendant Armando Ayon be tried on murder, vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving charges brought against them resulting from a pedestrian’s death last October.

The incident occurred on Sherman Way, October 9 in the afternoon when Ayon’s new Nissan Maxima hit a parked silver Daewoo sedan forcing that car into the rear of a Honda Civic driven by Syeda Arif.

Surewood had been driving a red Camaro. Eyewitnesses produced at last month’s hearing described how Surewood and Ayon were allegedly fighting with one another, as their respective cars cut in and out of traffic on three lanes.

According to witness Laura Beck, the cars had been going about 50 mph. At one point, Surewood’s car wound up in front of Ayon’s, according to testimony. Surewood apparently stopped abruptly in the curb lane and Ayon’s car swerved into parked cars in a possible attempt to avoid a rear collision with Surewood.

The accident happened near Amestoy with Ayon careening across the westbound lanes and winding up on the center median. In the process, Arif, who was holding her baby daughter, was thrown onto a lawn along with her 5-year-old son.

The son was killed while Arif and her 10 month old daughter sustained injuries. The daughter has remained in intensive care with head injuries, while Arif was rendered unconscious at the scene. Arif’s resultant injuries include the loss of her left leg, a broken right kneecap, fractured pelvis and damage to some internal organs.

During the hearing in April when Beck testified, both Ayon’s attorney Howard R. Levine and Surewood’s attorney Peter Korn found discrepancies in her story as to exactly where the accident occurred with relation to Amestoy Avenue and where she had been on Sherman Way at the time in relation to Surewood and Ayon’s cars.

Another witness, Porter Miles, claimed to have seen Ayon riding close to Surewood’s bumper with Surewood tapping his brakes then coming to a full stop. According to Miles, who testified he had seen the accident from his rear view mirror, Surewood left the scene of the accident but stopped several hundred feet down the road. Miles said he called out to Surewood asking him why he had fled the scene.

Surewood, who put in a 911 call, claims he had nothing to do with the accident, that Ayon had lost control of his car.

Surewood testified that he was some distance in front of Ayon and only became aware of the accident when he was further down the road. Another witness, Roger Cook, estimated that Surewood and Ayon were both going around 55 mph but didn’t appear to be racing.

Traffic collision investigator Det. Dagoberto Espino determined that Surewood’s Camaro had been going at an “unsafe speed for conditions” and had engaged in “unsafe lane changing.”

Espino’s report had found Surewood at fault for the accident, but also indicated that Ayon had also been going at an unsafe speed. His report also determined that they were driving too fast for conditions and that Ayon had been following at an unsafe distance.

In his accident report, Espino had also observed that Surewood’s Camaro made an unsafe lane change in front of the Maxima. Espino said he had deduced that scenario by examining the “fresh, dark” tire marks on the roadway at the scene.

But Espino also admitted that he never compared the skid marks to the tires on Surewood’s vehicle, and didn’t know if the Camaro had been fitted with anti-lock brakes.

During this week’s hearing, Det. David Millan, who also investigated the accident, had taken statements both from Surewood and Ayon.

Surewood supposedly told Millan that he phoned 911 to get assistance but didn’t know he was sought in relation to the accident until seeing news reports later on TV. Surewood, while denying that he had been a participant in the accident, said a black Maxima had been riding his bumper for at least a block between Balboa and Amestoy on westbound Sherman Way. Surewood in his statement to the police also said he tapped his breaks to get the Maxima to back off.

Robert Ockey, an accident reconstruction expert, testified that he could find no indication from the tire marks that Surewood had stopped in the curb lane of westbound Sherman Way at any time before Ayon swerved into the parked cars.

Ockey said that if Surewood had even slowed down at the site of the accident, his car would have been hit by Ayon’s after it had bounced off the parked cars. Attorneys Levine and Korn argued that under California case law, there was no implied malice- which requires a greater burden of proof- and that their clients should not be charged with having killed the child.

Korn also argued that Surewood should not be charged with “personal infliction of great bodily injury” since neither he nor his car had ever come in contact with any of the victims.

Dunn dismissed that charge but ruled that a combination of factors rose to a finding of implied malice. Noting that there were at least 50 cars in the vicinity of the accident, Dunn said this was more than just a case of reckless driving.

“Clearly, they were engaged in acts that were dangerous to human life,” she said.

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