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A man who led officers on a New Year’s Eve chase while drunk, then killed a police dog by jumping off the San Diego-Coronado Bridge with the animal, pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony charges.
Cory Byron, 28, admitted one count each of felony evading and driving under the influence. He also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of harming a service animal, said Deputy District Attorney Paul Myers.
Byron, who has previous DUI convictions from 2003 and 2005, faces three years and eight months in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 29 by Vista Judge Joel Pressman, Myers said.
Oceanside police Officer Kedrick Sadler testified at a hearing in April that he had just left his station with his dog, Stryker, when he spotted a possible drunken driver in a pickup truck swerving from lane to lane on nearby state Route 76.
Sadler said he turned on his overhead lights, then activated his siren when the driver didn’t stop. Byron made a U-turn against a red arrow at Melrose Drive and went westbound on SR 76, running red lights at numerous intersections before striking a vehicle at College Avenue.
The defendant turned south on Interstate 5, exited at Pershing Drive in downtown San Diego and made a U-turn to return to the freeway, the officer testified.
According to Sadler, the pickup went onto the bridge but stopped at mid-span after striking a wall. He said he deployed Stryker when the defendant got out of his vehicle and acted like he was about to run, despite commands to stay put.
Stryker grabbed Byron’s left arm and took him down to the roadway next to a concrete barrier, Sadler said. The dog continued gripping the defendant’s arm as he got up and turned in a motion that seemed as if he was trying to fling the canine over the wall, the officer said.
Sadler said he tried to reach the dog, but Byron put his leg onto the barrier and went over with the animal still attached.
Bryon was rescued by San Diego Harbor Police officers immediately after the fall and was hospitalized for more than a week with a collapsed lung and other injuries.
Byron’s blood-alcohol level was measured at .17 percent four hours after the pursuit and accident, according to San Diego DUI attorneys.