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Articles Posted in DUI Manslaughter

On April 19, in San Diego, 26-year-old Mario Castaneda-Carranza made a horrible decision that cost him the lives of his friends. He chose to operate his vehicle, a ’97 Nissan Sentra, under the influence of alcohol. It’s surprising he chose to drive inebriated, considering he has a previous DUI from 2007 on his lengthy criminal record.

Carranza was driving too fast – 70mph – on I-8 at 7:30am, when he swayed to the center divider, only to lose control of his vehicle when he tried to swerve back to the road. His ’97 Nissan plowed through a chain link fence and smashed into a concrete culvert, killing both of his friends; two 20 year olds, Carlos Kristopher Vargas and Monica Lupercio. The two had met recently and kindled a relationship – only to meet a tragic end due to the poor decision making skills of their friend behind the wheel.

Carranza will have plenty of time to mull over his actions, as he miraculously survived the crash. He was hurt during the impact, sustaining major injuries, and was taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital. CHP officials have announced that Carranza is faced with multiple charges – felony DUI resulting in deaths, vehicular homicide involving alcohol, murder and his previous DUI conviction – which doesn’t help his case, either.

Early this morning around 2am, tragedy struck as a San Diego cab driver’s taxi was impaled by another driver going the wrong way in southbound lanes on interstate 5. The reckless driver did not stop and successfully fled the scene in an extreme hit-and-run. The cab driver was able to get out of his mangled car, but was devastatingly hit by another driver – who also fled the scene of a second hit-and-run. The cab driver sustained severe injuries that he later died from; a heartbreaking result to horrible circumstances. The cab driver’s vehicle, a green and yellow taxi, was smashed into a retaining wall off of the freeway; interstate 5 in Old Town, as mentioned earlier.

Authorities commenced the search for the two MIA hit-and-run drivers, and were thankfully able to locate the driver who was driving the opposite direction on the freeway. The suspect is a 42 year old woman from Pheonix, AZ, who was apparently operating her vehicle under the influence of alcohol. When authorities located her, she was arrested and detained on felony drunk driving charges. The motorist who hit the cab driver as he stepped out of his vehicle, however, has not been located as of today. Authorities are still vigorously searching for this driver – who is essentially responsible for vehicular manslaughter – to bring closure to this case.


A deadly crash involving a drunk driver is under investigation in San Diego. The accident took place south of Old Highway 80 on Church Road at around 4:10 p.m., which left the supposed drunk driver dead and the other victim with severe life threatening injuries. According to CHP Officer Kevin Pearlstein, the driver, a 21-year-old Woman from El Cajon, was driving her Cadillac Escalade on the wrong side of the highway and hit both the right and left side metal guardrails. The victim, a 41-year-old Woman from Humboldt, was driving her 1998 Acura Integra heading northbound when the Escalade collided with her head-on, slamming the car on top of the guardrail and causing itself to roll completely over onto its side. Both drivers were immediately flown to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego by paramedics. Unfortunately the driver of the Escalade was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the accident and was thrown from the vehicle while rolling from the collision, resulting in her untimely death. The victim endured serious life-threatening injuries and was admitted at the hospital for immediate treatment. Officer Pearlstein stated, “It appears alcohol was a factor.” Drinking and driving remains a pressing issue for our California legal system. While many new provisions and safety measures have been put into action in recent months by local law enforcement, some drivers are still making the wrong decision to consume alcohol and operate their vehicle. The Leslie Legal Team encourages drivers to not make that decision and withhold from drinking and driving, however we understand that these circumstances do arise and we strongly advise retaining an experienced DUI attorney when they do. Hiring the right attorney to handle your DUI charges can make an enormous impact on the outcome of your case and your life.


“DUI suspected in East County head-on fatality”– SD 6 News, January 10, 2014

A DUI related crash in San Diego has left three killed and five injured. 25-year-old William Cady was driving five passengers in a 2000 Cadillac Escalade around 11:15 p.m. when he lost control of his vehicle. He was heading North from Interstate 805 onto the Westbound Route 52 ramp when he swerved off the road and rolled several times over the dirt embankment. The car then hit a pillar and tumbled back into traffic causing an oncoming Acura to crash into the Escalade and another car coming from behind to hit the Acura. Shockingly, the Escalade still managed to roll across both the westbound and eastbound lanes of the highway and landed in an eastbound side ditch as its final resting point. Cady and his four passengers were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident and were ejected from the SUV, resulting in the death of three passengers who were 23, 29, and 35 years of age. CHP officers arrested Cady on suspicion of drunk driving at the scene though he was sent directly to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla to be treated for his injuries. The one surviving passenger from the SUV, of 25 years of age, was rushed to Sharp Memorial Hospital. Two of the motorists from the other vehicles involved in the accident were also hospitalized with minor injuries. Names of the victims have yet to be released due to pending notification from family members. CHP Officer Art Platero said that witnesses of the accident noticed that the Escalade had been moving at a noticeably high speed immediately prior to the crash. At this point in time, the multitude of possible charges Cady is facing makes retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney crucial to the handling and outcome of his case. If convicted of DUI manslaughter, Cady will face very serious criminal charges as punishment for his negligent decisions.


“3 Killed, 5 Hurt in DUI Crash” – CBS 8 News, January 12th, 2014

A San Diego woman, Soranon Booppanon, was arrested for felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter after colliding with another vehicle near the UTC mall in University City, leaving a 77-year-old man dead. If found guilty, Booppanon could be looking at up to 15 years in prison as punishment for this crime. The crash, which occurred on October 23rd around 10:30 a.m., involved Booppanon, 39, and three other vehicles of whom Booppanon hit after running a red light. Police reports state that Booppanon was driving her Toyota Prius when she ran a red light at the La Jolla Village Drive and Genesee Avenue intersection, hitting a Volkswagon Golf, an Audi, and a Nissan truck. Tragically George Matteson, the driver of the Volkswagon Golf and a resident of Pacific Beach, passed away due to his injuries. His wife, Betty Matteson, who was also in the vehicle at the time of the crash, was also seriously injured but did in fact survive. The driver of the Audi and Booppanon had minor injuries and the Nissan driver was unharmed. Despite being accused for driving under the influence of prescription drugs at the time of the crash, the San Diego District Attorney’s office validated that Booppanon has been released from custody to receive treatment for preexisting medical issues. Her release was not free of objections from prosecutors who argued in court that Booppanon was on strong prescription medications and should under no circumstances have been driving that day. However, a defense attorney pleaded to the judge that Booppanon is suffering from a viral infection and medical conditions stemming from multiple injuries she sustained during her 13-year servitude in the U.S. Air Force. He also stated that Booppanon was actually on her way to the Veterans Administration at the time of the accident. Upon agreeing to Booppanon’s release, the judge ordered her not to drive and to only leave her house when she needs to attend medical appointments. Booppanon is due back in court November 5th and & 7th for a readiness conference and preliminary hearing.


“DUI Suspect in Fatal Crash Released from Custody”– NBC 7 News, October 31, 2013

19-year-old Carly Rousso was accussed of killing 5-year-old Jaclyn Santos Sacramento while allegedly driving under the influence of inhalants. Previous to driving around in Highland Park, Rousso had used the substance difluoroethane which is used to clear dust. Sacramento, along with her mother and two siblings, had been walking along the sidewalk when Rousso, who was under the influence, ran over Sacramento with her car resulting in her death. Rousso plead not guilty to four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of intoxicating compounds and two counts of reckless homicide.

In the past decade, the use of inhalants has increased drastically as a means to get the same high as other drugs like cocaine and ecstasy, especially among the younger generation. These can include sniffing glue or burnt cinnamon. Alternative methods of obtaining similar highs are attractive to the youth because these everyday items are easily accessible and are at a low-cost. Users of inhalants claim that there is no danger to the public when using these substances, which is why they are not regulated under the Controlled Substances Act. However, one teenager learned differently.

Rousso’s attorney made a motion to dismiss the case, as difluoroethane is not a substance listed in the “‘Use of Compounds Act,’ which defines intoxicating compounds and prohibits the use of 15 specifically enumerated substances.” If this motion does not succeed, Rousso faces a maximum sentence of 14 years for all six counts. If the letter of the law must be followed, then the defense may be correct in stating that the compound Rousso used is not included in the list of illegal substances; however, this brings up the question of whether or not the wording of the “Use of Compounds Act” and other similar laws should be altered so that any type of inhalants are included so that people can be charged with DUIs.

On August 5, 2012, Arlene Anna Hernandez, 23, crashed her SUV into Otay Reservoir while under the influence of alcohol, tragically killing two 5-year-old girls present in the vehicle at the time of the crash. Hernandez later pleaded guilty in March to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of DUI causing injury, taking responsibility for ending the lives of her own daughter, Lesette Silva, and her friend Guiliana Figueroa. Almost a year after the accident, Chula Vista Superior Court Judge, Theodore Weathers, has sentenced Hernandez to eight years in prison. Judge Weathers noted that the maximum sentence Hernandez could have faced based on her plea agreement was 12 years prison time and called the incident “a particularly tragic case”. The judge also stated that the victims were especially vulnerable due to the fact they were seat-belted into the submerged car. At Hernandez’s preliminary hearing in November, evidence construed that Hernandez had taken her daughter to Mountain Hawk Park in Chula Vista for a “play date” with Guiliana and her father, Eric Figueroa. The two adults made a very poor decision to drink three beers each at the park while their daughters played together, which they both honestly confessed. At around 6 p.m., Hernandez reported that she saw skydivers coming in for a landing North of the reservoir she later crashed into, and wanted her daughter to get a closer look. The adults then put the little girls into the back of a Kia SUV, strapping Lesette into a child’s car seat but failing to do so with Guiliana. Soon thereafter, Hernandez lost control of the vehicle on Otay Lakes Road near Wueste Road, drove over an embankment, and plunged into the reservoir.

Hernandez told investigators that she had swerved the car to avoid a rock, however, California Highway Patrol officers testified that no rock or any other obstruction was found on the scene of the accident. When Hernandez’s blood was drawn and tested her blood-alcohol content measured almost 1.5 times the legal limit for driving in California. Both Hernandez and Figueroa were able to get out of the SUV and swim to the surface of the water, saving themselves but putting forth little to no effort in saving their daughters. Several witnesses jumped in the water in an attempt to help but were of no luck and the girls were not pulled out of the vehicle until Border Patrol agents arrived. One witness flagged agent Travis Creteau down as he was driving by the scene. He quickly jumped in, swam to the SUV, and used a knife to cut Lesette out of her car seat. Unfortunately, by the time Creteau pulled both girls out of the water and to the surface, their bodies had already gone limp.

Mother of victim Guiliana Figueroa, Natasha Lee, spoke on behalf of her deceased daughter stating, “I’m tormented by the loss of my daughter. You (Hernandez) had no concern for the lives, which you were responsible for that day, two little angels that must have been terrified. I would have died myself trying to save my child.” Lee also described the indescribable pain of learning of her little girl’s fate, going to identify the body at Rady Children’s Hospital where both little girls were pronounced dead, and called the defendant “careless and selfish”. Hernandez tearfully apologized in court expressing, “I am so sorry for all the pain that I have caused you. I take full responsibility for the death of my daughter, Lesette, and the death of Guiliana. With the time that I get sentenced to, your honor, I just want to be able to better myself and to work on myself as a mother and a daughter.” Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb argued for the full twelve-year sentence, however the judge felt that the eight-year term was appropriate after Hernandez’s defense pointed out that their client had no prior record. This argument proved successful given the outcome of the verdict, and reiterates the importance for anyone facing criminal charges to acquire a strong and experienced defense attorney.

Deaths due to suicide and prescription drug overdoses, as well as homicides, have reached record numbers in San Diego for the second year in a row. The San Diego County Medical Examiner released an Annual report for 2012 stating the detailed trends showing the increase. Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas stated, “Our office investigates every non-natural death in San Diego, and, tragically, many of these deaths are preventable. The report reveals some of the serious issues and behaviors affecting San Diego County residents and visitors.” In 2012, close to half of the approximated 20,000 total deaths in the county, a total of 10,018 deaths, were reported to the San Diego County Medical Examiner. Of those 10,018, the office further investigated 2,853 deaths, performed 1,962 autopsies, and 901 external examinations. Only about five percent of the deaths investigated are by natural causes, leaving the other ninety-five percent to non-natural causes, such as homicide, accident, and suicide cases. The breakdown of death classification in 2012 was 44 percent accident cases, 36 percent natural deaths, 15 percent suicides, and 4.6 percent homicides. In comparison to past annual reports, this is a record number of people succumbed to suicide and fatal prescription-drug overdoses in the San Diego area. No cause of death could be determined in 1 percent of cases. The report concluded that Methamphetamine continues to be the number one cause of drug related death, with Heroin following close behind. It also stated that of drivers killed in car accidents, a startling 43 percent were DUI cases and the leading cause of natural death remains cardiovascular disease.

The Medical Examiner’s Office recommended the following resources for those individuals at risk for suicide or drug overdose.

– County Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Line: (888) 724-7240

On May 16th in Rancho Penasquitos, an 18-year-old young man named Timothy Barnette was driving east on state Route 56 near Black Mountain Road in his 2002 sport utility Range Rover. At around 9:40 a.m. he veered across the center median and head-on into another car driving westbound. The other driver was identified as 22-year-old Nicholas Hart who’s 2010 Toyota Scion was unfortunately no match for the impact of Barnette’s car. Hart, who according to a relative had been driving to a family member’s funeral at the time the accident took place, was killed on impact. As a Poway High School Graduate and Cal State San Marcos student, the loss of Hart strikes the local community undoubtedly close to home.

According to California Highway Patrol, Timothy Barnette suffered serious injuries from the collision and was quickly hospitalized following the crash. Once released from the hospital, he was booked into jail Thursday afternoon on counts of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter. Local authorities have yet to specify what type of drug Barnette was supposedly under the influence of when he crashed. CHP Officer Jake Sanchez commented earlier stating that investigators have reason to believe Barnette was driving while impaired by a substance other than alcohol. Barnette was held on $100,000 bail pending arraignment, which was scheduled for Friday morning.

Based on initial reports of this fatal accident, Barnette is very likely to be facing numerous severe penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance including enormous fines, mandatory license suspension, jail time, participation in programs for alcohol treatment, work projects, and/or community service. These penalties are standard for any and all individuals who are convicted of a DUI. However, Barnette’s case encompasses DUI charges along with the indisputable possibility of gross vehicular manslaughter. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, my law firm has handled numerous DUI and manslaughter cases throughout San Diego. If you or a loved one is ever arrested or has been arrested for a DUI or manslaughter crime, remember that the best way to protect your rights is to speak with and retain a reputable and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer. I take personal responsibility in my firm’s “commitment to excellence” in obtaining a favorable result on your case.

A Chula Vista mom is ordered to stand trial for DUI crash that that resulted in the deaths of her beloved 5-year-old daughter and her daughter’s 5-year-old friend. The 22-year-old mom, who is accused of drunk driving, veered off the road and crashed into the Otay Lake Reservoir. Although rescue attempts were made, tragically the two little girls died that evening.

While under the influence of alcohol, the young mom made the careless decision to get behind the wheel. Unfortunately, Arlene Anna Hernandez, lost control of her 2005 Kia Sedona on eastbound Otay Lakes Road shortly after 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 5, said authorities. According to California Highway Patrol Officer Omar Morales, the vehicle tumbled down an embankment near Wueste Road, overturned, landed on its roof in the water and sank.

News reports stated that Hernandez and Eric Figueroa, who was her front passenger, were able to escape the sinking vehicle. However, their 5-year-old girls were still belted in their seats. Hernandez’s daughter, Lesette Silva and Figueroa’s daughter Giuliana remained trapped in the back seat until they were pulled out by Border Patrol Agent Travis Creteau. He jumped in the murky water in his full uniform to rescue the girls from the submerged SUV. Local area residents also tried to help with the rescue. Even though heroic measures were were taken to try and save the two beloved five-year-olds, both girls died later at Rady Children’s Hospital.

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