For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
DRUNKEN TEEN DRIVER CONVICTED OF MURDERING FATHER AND SON IN HIGH-SPEED EARLY-MORNING CRASH
SANTA ANA – A drunken teenage driver was convicted today of murdering a father and son in an early-morning high-speed crash. Rafael Lopez, 20, Anaheim, was found guilty by a jury of two felony counts of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in state prison at his sentencing June 7, 2013, in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2010, then-18-year-old Lopez was driving at a high rate of speed while under the influence of alcohol on Crescent Avenue in Buena Park. He was driving his Mitsubishi sedan at approximately 80 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, accelerated through a red light at the intersection of Knott Avenue and Crescent Avenue, and failed 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 caused the victims’ car to travel over 130 feet before coming to a stop. Steven and Douglas Uselton were both pronounced dead at the scene. Lopez murdered Douglas Uselton by causing blunt force trauma to the head and internal injuries. Lopez murdered Steven Uselton by causing multiple blunt force injuries and internal bleeding.
Lopez had a .13 blood alcohol level after the crash. 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 his hospital discharge.
The victims are survived by a wife/mother and a teenage daughter/sister.
BPPD investigated this case and Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.