Driver arraigned in death of 10-year-old; funeral arrangements set

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 15, 2012 

The suspected drunken driver involved in a traffic collision that killed a Los Banos fifth-grader earlier this month appeared in a Los Banos court this week, as family finalized funeral plans.

Justin Nappi, 20, was at the Robert M. Falasco Justice Center Wednesday for a preliminary examination and bail review hearing.

Nappi stood without speaking, wearing glasses and a gray T-shirt over a blue sweatshirt, while Judge John Parker and attorneys set the next hearing for Jan. 9 at 1:30 p.m. in Los Banos.

He has been charged with one count of gross vehicular manslaughter, a count of driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a measurable blood alcohol level causing injury. All three counts are felonies and carry enhancements for injuries to other passengers. Nappi pleaded not guilty to the charges via a video arraignment on Nov. 7.

The hearing was days after youth football players and coaches remembered Jayden Thomas, 10, with memorial games and fundraisers. His teammates took to the Veterans Memorial Stadium field Saturday night, carrying a blownup photo of Jayden, and formed a No. 7, Jayden's jersey number, on the field while holding glow sticks.

Jayden, a Los Banos Wildcats peewee quarterback, was killed Nov. 3 on his way home from a football game in Manteca. Jayden and his family were riding in a 1992 BMW, struck on its passenger side by a 1991 Chevy pickup driven by Nappi. Police said Nappi ran a stop sign at the intersection of Place Road and East B Street. The tragedy set off an outpouring of emotion from the community, which held a vigil and fundraisers the next day.

Jayden's visitation service is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Whitehurst Funeral Chapel, 1840 Center Ave. The funeral is 10 a.m. Monday.

Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby would not comment on the strength of the case, but said Nappi's blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit of .08.

"This case is basically a tragedy for everybody involved," Colby said.

Court records did not show Nappi's blood-alcohol level from the night of the collision, but stated he had given blood after he was taken to Memorial Hospital Los Banos.

The police report, which was included in the court file, stated Nappi smelled of alcohol, slurred his speech, was unable to walk without assistance and fell asleep during questioning. Others had tried to keep him from driving that night, according to the document.

Jeffrey Tenenbaum, Nappi's attorney, said he was retained by his client on Wednesday, and will begin the discovery process.

"Obviously, this is a very difficult time for everybody on both sides," Tenenbaum said. "Justin and his family are devastated at what happened and their hearts go out to them (the Thomas family)."

According to court documents, Nappi's bail was set at $400,000. He will remain in the John Lotarroca Correctional Facility in lieu of bail.

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