COURT WATCH: Parties Confer in Vehicle Manslaughter Case Now Charged as Murder

By Citlalli Florez

WOODLAND, CA – Prosecution and defense lawyers continued to discuss—sometimes with the judge—a vehicular manslaughter case that now includes a murder charge, here Monday in Yolo County Superior Court.

The accused, present out of jail custody on supervised OR after posting bail, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, vehicle manslaughter with gross negligence, possession of a controlled substance, armed with a weapon, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, and possessing a narcotic controlled substance.

In a previous hearing, the prosecution reportedly announced a murder charge under the implied malice or the willingness to harm others.

Deputy Public Defender Peter Borruso opposed the charge, arguing “a momentary lack of judgment. Just being a dangerous act doesn’t elevate something into murder.”

At the time, Judge Samuel McAdam believed sufficient evidence supported the notion that the accused knew what he was doing and the potential risks.

He had also previously advised both attorneys, Deputy District Attorney Frits Van Der Hoek and Borruso, to consider potentially resolving the case with a plea agreement.

During Monday’s hearing, Judge McAdam announced, “The court just had a 20-minute to half-hour conference with the parties. I want to note that both the prosecution and defense participated in copious negotiations with the court in good faith. It is my opinion that it was a productive session, and the lawyers have been meeting without me as well and working hard in trying to find a path toward further negotiations that might be fruitful.”

Judge McAdam continued, “I want to encourage the parties to continue to do that, and this case may very well and in good faith find some meeting of the minds when the court offers itself to further conference. With that, we understand that the 995 motion setting is confirmed.”

If the 995 motion (PC § 995 to dismiss all or part of a criminal case) is agreed upon, the judge can dismiss parts of information that the judge did not do during the preliminary hearing. This often would include dismissing a criminal complaint. A 995 motion may also occur if the judge finds insufficient legal grounds to hold the accused to trial for a specific charge.

On the night that the collision occurred, the accused was allegedly driving over 103 mph, which is well above the speed limit. The accused reportedly passed a stop sign when the crash occurred. The driver of the second vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accused was reportedly not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but officers allegedly found heroin and a loaded firearm within the accused’s vehicle.

The trial was set for March 14 of 2024. Eight court dates were reserved for the matter.

About The Author

Citlalli Florez is a 4th year undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently majoring in Legal Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Art Practice. She intends to attend law school in the future with the purpose of gaining skills to further serve her community.

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