District Attorney

Dave Stevenson

(530) 303-2411
PLACERVILLE, Calif. – El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson announced today a Placerville Jury has found Joshua McCavitt guilty of Murder and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter in the death of Denise Caldwell. DA Pierson further stated, “Though nothing can change the tragic events of that day or relieve the family’s loss, it is my hope the guilty verdict can give the family a sense of closure and begin the healing process”.

In September of 2012, Denise Caldwell was traveling Eastbound on Pony Express Trail on her way home with her husband, Scott Caldwell, following behind her in his vehicle. The two had just finished dinner together a few hours earlier.

Joshua McCavitt had other plans for that day and into the evening hours. The evidence/testimony showed McCavitt had been bar hopping from Placerville to Pollock Pines. McCavitt’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was a .12% which is one and a half times the legal limit, contained marijuana (THC), and Xanax a prescription drug. McCavitt was traveling westbound on Pony Express Trail at almost three times the suggested speed limit when his lifted pick-up truck swerved into oncoming traffic. McCavitt’s truck collided with Mrs. Caldwell’s vehicle, right before Mr. Caldwell’s eyes. The collision occurred in such a violent manner that witnesses over 100 yards away described the crash as an explosion.

Caldwell’s injuries were so severe that she was pronounced dead at the scene. McCavitt only suffered minor injuries, was arrested at the scene by the California Highway Patrol, and booked into the El Dorado County Jail. The trial started on January 28, 2014, in the El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville. Over the next two weeks the jury heard substantial evidence and expert witness testimony presented by Deputy District Attorney Michael Pizzuti. The jury deliberated for only 3 hours before rendering a guilty verdict of Murder and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter.

DA Vern Pierson commented, “This is the exact type of behavior that will not be tolerated in our community. Cases such as these which involve repeat DUI offenders and death or great bodily harm are assigned to our grant funded Vertical Prosecution Team. This team of specialized prosecutors and investigators has once again proven the effectiveness of this grant when prosecuting complex DUI cases”.

Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.