Bail reduced for man accused in death of Lowell student

A judge Wednesday reduced the bail of the man accused of driving drunk and killing Lowell High School student Hanren Chang late Saturday night on her 17th birthday.

Kieran Brewer, 28, has been charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter, driving with a blood alcohol level above .08 and driving under the influence resulting in death or bodily injury. He faces up to ten years in prison if convicted.

Brewer, of San Francisco, is accused of striking Chang with was his car as she crossed Sloat Boulevard at Vale Avenue, about 11:20 p.m. last Saturday.

After hearing arguments from the prosecution and defense, Judge Jerome T. Benson reduced Brewer’s bail from $800,000 to $300,000.

District Attorney George Gascón said:

“In a matter of seconds, a young girl’s life was taken on her 17th birthday because of the irresponsible behavior of the defendant,”  “When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you are responsible not only for yourself but to the cars and pedestrians around you. We hope this case serves as a reminder of the tragic consequences when you drink and drive.”

Authorities allege Brewer was driving westbound on Sloat Boulevard — as Chang was crossing Sloat traveling northbound — when he struck Chang with the front of his car.

At Wednesday’s arraignment, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof argued a bail amount of $800,000 was excessive because Brewer has no prior criminal history. He also noted that Brewer did stop and try to help Chang.

Maloof also questioned the accuracy of the machine that tested Brewer’s breath for alcohol. He said the machine has an error margin that made it doubtful Brewer was actually intoxicated, because when he was tested, he was just above the legal limit:

“Just the margin of error alone can bring it to below .08. … In this case, all four readings that the machine gave indicated that there are problems with the machine.”

Maloof requested that the bail be reduced because Brewer had never been in trouble before and all his ties are to San Francisco, where he was born and raised.

The prosecutor, Nicole Joseph-Goteiner, countered that Brewer is quoted in the initial police report as admitting that he was driving between 45 and 50 m.p.h. — well over the speed limit — and that he’d admitted to police at the scene that he had drank alcohol not long before the crash:

“He hit and killed a 17-year-old and he was drunk at the time. … (A breath test was taken) two hours later. He was just coming down. He was higher at the time of the accident.”

Joseph-Goteiner confirmed that Brewer did stop and attempt to help the girl, though she also said he posed a danger to the community and that he is a flight risk.

Brewer’s parents expressed remorse for Chang and her family and devastation that their son now faces three felony charges:

“This is just a horrible, horrible accident. He doesn’t even drink, especially not when he drives. … He might have had one drink. He’s never been arrested, never been in any trouble before. He’s the best son a father could ever have.”

Brewer has not yet pled his guilt or innocence to the court, and his arraignment was continued to Friday.

“We’re devastated. He’s devastated and so sick about this. … He’s acknowledged it as being a tragic accident. Words cannot express our sorrow for the (victim’s) family.”