|For Immediate Release
Case # 10NF4137
August 22, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
CHARGES UPGRADED TO MURDER AGAINST DRUNKEN TEEN DRIVER FOR KILLING FATHER AND SON IN HIGH-SPEED EARLY-MORNING CRASH
SANTA ANA – An amended complaint was filed today based on the findings of the ongoing investigation upgrading charges to two felony counts of murder against a drunken teenage driver for killing a father and son in an early-morning high-speed crash. Rafael Lopez, 19, Anaheim, now faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in state prison if convicted. Lopez was previously charged Dec. 21, 2010, with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter. He is being held on $1 million bail and is scheduled for a continued arraignment Oct. 3, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-5, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2010, Lopez is accused of driving at a high rate of speed while under the influence of alcohol on Crescent Avenue in Buena Park. He is accused of driving his Mitsubishi sedan at a speed approximately twice the 45 miles per hour speed limit, accelerating through the red light at the intersection of Knott Avenue and Crescent Avenue, and failing to brake before crashing into a Buick sedan driven by 44-year-old Steven Uselton. Steven Uselton’s 17-year-old son Douglas Uselton was riding in the passenger seat, as his father was driving him to an early-morning high school debate tournament.
Lopez is accused of causing the victims’ car to travel over 130 feet before coming to a stop as a result of the high-speed impact. Steven and Douglas Uselton were both pronounced dead at the scene. Lopez is accused of murdering Douglas Uselton by causing blunt force trauma to the head and internal injuries. Lopez is accused of murdering Steven Uselton by causing multiple blunt force injuries and internal bleeding.
Lopez is accused of having a .13 blood alcohol level. He was transported from the scene to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries and was arrested by the Buena Park Police Department (BPPD) upon being discharged.
The victims are survived by a wife/mother and a teenage daughter/sister.
BPPD investigated this case and Senior Deputy District Attorney Alison Gyves of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.