Man Held without Bail for Vehicular Manslaughter that Killed His Fiancée

By Priana Aquino and Jose Medina

SACRAMENTO, CA – Defendant Ruben Lopez, charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the death of his fiancée, was not present in Sacramento County Superior Court Tuesday because of injuries he sustained in that same May collision.

Despite an attempt by Assistant Public Defender David Anguiano to get his client released from custody, the court eventually decided to hold Lopez without bail because of his driving record.

The court was told Lopez was driving on a highway where the victim, his fiancée, was a passenger sitting in the front right seat. The vehicle veered off to the right hand portion of the road when Lopez was driving in the fast lane of a two-lane highway, hit the metal guard rail and tumbled over until it landed on its wheels, killing the victim.

The defendant ran out of the car and tried to communicate with the victim, but the fiancée was already deceased.

PD Anguiano asked the court to release Lopez on his own recognizance, or at the very least set bail at a reasonable amount.

In reviewing Lopez’s flight risk and effect on public safety, Anguiano maintained that there was evidence that Lopez’s fiancée was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident. He also informed the court that Lopez has a full time job and is a single parent to three kids aged 13, 14, and 17 in Lodi.

Anguiano expressed that the defendant is willing to provide evidence that he is going to work and that he will comply with any other measures to track alcohol consumption of driving a vehicle.

In response to this, Deputy District Attorney Jesse Saucedo pointed out that, while Lopez’s history was not violent, it was still a record related to driving.

Lopez is also charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, and he was charged with reckless driving in 2003. He has at least three warrants dating back to 2010.

DDA Saucedo argued that, though the defendant had a non-violent history, a life was still lost.

He read a letter from the victim’s mother, who said “Lopez does not deserve the freedom of bail. He caused two children…to be without a mother…He needs to stay there…(he) took more than just a life. He took a rock and a lifeline away from all of us.”

Lopez also had a .08 blood alcohol content and has misdemeanors on his record dating back 20 years.

Faced with a difficult decision, Judge Patrick Marlette sighed and clicked his pen contemplating on the severity of Lopez’s offense and whether or not he is a danger to public safety, noting his decision must come from “not only of there being a death, but in terms of it happening in a way that endangered public safety.”

In evaluating if Lopez is a danger to public safety he noted that the incident did not involve other vehicles but that “it further appears that Mr. Lopez at the time at least did not abide by the law which requires him to have a license and had been in that situation for quite a while with a record of reckless driving.”

The judge further added that “one would think after losing his fiancée in this that we could just rely on him not being a danger in the future. However on this occasion he was intoxicated, he was without a license and apparently caused this accident,” and he concluded that Lopez is a danger to public safety.

The judge declared that he could not see any less restrictive means that would prevent Lopez from committing another offense, stating “the evidence is clear and convincing based on this conduct in his prior persistence in driving without a license.”

Judge Marlette ruled the court will detain Lopez without bail.

Priana Aquino is an incoming 4th year at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Business and minoring in Legal Studies. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend law school and continue her work in uplifting and advocating for communities of color.

Jose graduated from UC Davis with a BA in Political Science and has interned for the California State Legislature. He is from Rocklin, CA.

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