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No charges in pickup sale that ended in mans death
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Criminal charges won’t be filed against staffers at a Manteca new car dealership.

The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office determined no criminal wrongdoing occurred in the selling of a truck to an ill, longtime customer who eventually led CHP officers on a high speed chase and then succumbed to a heart attack hours later.

Deputy District Attorney Sherri Adams said Wednesday morning that the police report contained insufficient evidence from numerous witnesses that would probably not stand up in court against Cabral Motors’ finance officer and salesman who had sold 67-year-old Donald Davis a Dodge Ram pickup truck late in October.

Adams said the case against two dealership workers – one in sales and the other in finance – was reviewed by both District Attorney Jim Willett and his second-in-command Ed Busuttil.

Davis had reportedly been confined to a wheelchair and suffering from dementia when he was picked up outside the Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center on Eastwood Avenue in the truck he had agreed to purchase over the telephone.

The retired Mantecan had fallen as he attempted to get behind the wheel, according to witnesses.  His wheelchair was placed in the back of the truck and he was helped into the passenger side of the vehicle and driven to the dealership at Yosemite Avenue and Union Road to complete the purchase, the report stated.

The deputy DA said that it appeared the victim had researched the merits of the vehicle online for up to three weeks prior to calling the Cabral dealership.  

“They were under the impression that he was getting therapy there,” Adams said.  “It was a tough call on our part – the situation is troublesome.”

Looking at the police report, the deputy DA said there were “a series of mishaps” in the scenario including  Davis’ wife Janet calling the dealership looking for her husband and the message not getting broadcast over the dealership intercom to the person with the information on his whereabouts being out of the office on a sale.

When a Manteca Police sergeant called the dealership later in the afternoon, it was confirmed that Davis had been there and had driven off in his new pickup truck.

“It was a perfect storm - a scenario like this would never work out – the timing would never work out.  If a criminal had tried such a plan it would never have worked,” the prosecutor said. “It’s troubling; a sad, sad situation and so unfortunate.”

Adams added that witnesses quoted Davis as telling the Cabral staff that he was going straight home where there was someone there to help him get out of the truck.  

Instead,  he apparently became lost and drove around in circles for hundreds of miles for hours before a CHP officer stopped him after clocking him over 100 miles an hour with a subsequent high speed pursuit in the Dublin area.

The prosecutor went on to say she has always been “concerned” when a dealership picks up their customers or goes to their houses to pick up paperwork with sales people being  “a little more zealous to make a deal.”

Dealership manager Don Cabral said his staff offered to take Davis home but he declined saying that wasn’t necessary since there was someone at home to help him get out of the truck.  “We are sorry for their loss and we cooperated with the information we had,” he said.

“He was a longtime customer and that transaction wasn’t any different over the phone than previous sales,” Cabral said.  “His wife was never with him (on earlier sales) and she would always come in later – so to us, there was nothing unusual about it.”

Cabral said he has refrained from giving news interview over the past two months for fear the exchanges would become a form of “media ping pong” in the community.  He added that a lot has been said about Davis wearing pajamas, saying it is not unusual in today’s world for people to be wearing sweat pants.

“The insinuations are so speculative and so sensationalized,” he charged. “We are upset the papers speculated and sensationalized it.  That was hard to swallow.  (It was) erroneous speculation.”

Cabral said he has heard nothing but positive support for his business from his customers.  “It hasn’t hurt our business.  Our customers have said: ‘We know who you are and how you do business. ’”

Davis’ widow said Wednesday that despite the fact the district attorney’s office had dropped the charges, she has retained an attorney and plans a civil action against the Cabral Motors dealership and the skilled nursing facility.

“I felt Cabral went in and stole my husband away.  He was in rehab so I could work,” she said.  “It just wasn’t safe for him to be home alone.”  

She added that she had taken the car keys away from her husband earlier in the year as she said it wasn’t safe for him to drive.

Mrs. Davis noted that the dealership did a credit check seven days before her husband took possession of his new truck.  She charged that Cabral was aware of their financial condition and his ill health.  

She said she is overwhelmed with “frustrations.”  The widow added, “I don’t have anything more to say about it. They thought they don’t have enough evidence to pursue it.  I saw the police report and I don’t know how much more evidence they need.”

The deputy district attorney further noted that everybody needs to be “very visual” in making transactions when dealing with the elder population.