SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- A San Luis Obispo County jury found a man guilty of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in a Nipomo car crash back in December 2018.
On Tuesday morning, District Attorney Dan Dow announced the conviction of Edgar Saul Rojas Morales, 25, of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated along with other felonies related to the death of Maria Rosas Medina, 82, from Santa Maria.
The crash happened at 10:30 p.m. on December 1, 2018. Morales was drunk driving on Thompson Road in Nipomo when he drove into the other lane of traffic and hit a car driven by Marciela Medina Marquez, 59 and passenger Maria Rosas Medina.
Marques suffered moderate injuries and Medina died in the crash.
Officers took a sample of Morales' blood and found the blood alcohol level at .15%, nearly twice the legal limit of .08%.
Morales said to officers that he felt clumsy and should not have driven that night.
“The tragic and completely avoidable death of Ms. Medina is a sobering reminder that driving under the influence of alcohol is deadly, dangerous and will not be tolerated in San Luis Obispo County,” said District Attorney Dan Dow. “We are thankful for the difficult work carried out by this jury, particularly in light of the COVID-19 safety precautions and we respect the fact that they were unable to reach a verdict on the charge of murder.”
The jury convicted Morales of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and driving on a suspended license.
The jury was not able to reach a unanimous verdict on the most serious charge of murder. The jury's decision was split 11 to 1 in favor of guilt.
In a separate hearing, Superior Court Judge Jesse Marino found true the allegations that Morales had suffered two prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2014 and 2017, and a prior conviction for driving on a suspended license.
Morales faces a maximum sentence of over 15 years to life in state prison, based on this case and his prior convictions.
A sentencing date has not yet been set.
The case is next in court December 29, 2020 with the Honorable Jesse Marino.
The case was investigated by the California Highway Patrol with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Melissa Chabra and Nikhil Dandekar.