A Santa Maria man was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on March 4 for the DUI-related death of an 82-year-old woman in Nipomo.
Edgar Saul Rojas Morales, 25, received the sentence in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court following his conviction on Dec. 16, 2020. A jury found Morales guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the death of Maria Rosas Medina of Santa Maria after a traffic collision on Dec. 1, 2018, according to District Attorney Dan Dow.
Additionally, the jury found Morales guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and driving on a suspended license. The jury did not find Morales guilty of murder, the most serious charge, after members were unable to reach a verdict, with 11 jurors finding him guilty and one jury finding him not guilty.
Morales received two prior DUI convictions from 2014 and 2017, which allowed prosecutors to use the state's Watson Murder Rule to charge him with murder after he was accused of causing a death in a separate DUI incident.
A Santa Maria man was convicted of manslaughter-related charges in the 2018 DUI-related death of an 82-year-old woman in Nipomo following a jury trial in San Luis Obispo County Monday.
The crash occurred around 10:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2018, when Morales drove his Honda Accord into the opposite lane of traffic and collided with a BMW X5, driven by Maricela Marquez, 59, of Santa Maria, near the intersection of South Thompson and Rancho roads, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Medina, a passenger in the BMW, was killed in the crash, and Marquez sustained moderate injuries.
A sample of Morales' blood showed an alcohol content of 0.157%, nearly twice the legal limit. Morales allegedly told officers he felt "clumsy" and should not have been driving that evening, according to Dow, who added Medina's death was completely avoidable.
"This conviction and sentence should serve as a warning that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is deadly dangerous, will not be tolerated in San Luis Obispo County and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Dow said.
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