Driver who struck and killed SLO couple pleads guilty to manslaughter

February 20, 2024

Jennifer Besser and Matthew Chachere


The man who allegedly struck and killed a San Luis Obispo couple while speeding on Sacramento Drive last fall pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges on Tuesday.

Daniel Saligan Patricio, 24, faces a minimum sentence of probation and a maximum sentence of seven years and four months in prison. He is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on April 9.

On the evening of Nov. 21, 2022, Patricio struck a curb, a street sign and the abutment of a bridge. Officers had the car towed and wrote out a traffic collision report. At the time, they saw no evidence that Patricio had struck and killed a couple and their dog.

The next day, a caller reported a dead dog in a creek bed off Sacramento Drive.

Five hours later, relatives of Matthew Chachere, 39, and Jennifer Besser, 36, reported the couple had not arrived at their expected holiday destination in Modesto. Relatives provided police with photos of the couple as well as a picture of their dog which was the same dog found in the creek bed.

Officers then returned to the heavily wooded creek bed and found the bodies of Chachere and Besser, which were lying in heavy brush.

On Feb. 27, 2023, officers arrested Patricio on two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter. Patricio admitted he drove while texting and that he was speeding at the time of the crash.

Even though Patricio had been drinking earlier in the day, an officer testified during a preliminary hearing that he did not smell of alcohol or appear to be under the influence at that time.

In determining whether to impose an upper term for a criminal offense, the court may consider aggravating factors. In this case, prosecutors are asking the court to consider that the victims were particularly vulnerable and that great bodily injury occurred.

Ilan Funke-Bilu, Patricio’s attorney, is expected to argue against the proposed aggravating factors.

“It is a sad, sad case all the way around,” Funke-Bilu said. “He feels terribly responsible. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.”

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In 1989, I was on the jury for State v. Seymour, here in SLO. This case was the second in the nation, to conclude with a murder conviction for DUI.

This case should be treated with no less result.

Convicted DUI drivers who maim and kill deserve serious time in prison.