|For Immediate Release
Case # 08WF1592
July 16, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
REPEAT DRUNKEN DRIVER CONVICTED OF MURDERING OWN PASSENGER IN CRASH
AFTER ABRUPTLY TURNING IN FRONT
OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver with a prior conviction was convicted yesterday of murdering a passenger in his own car after causing a crash by turning in front of oncoming traffic while driving under the influence of alcohol. Ivan Gandarilla, 25, Long Beach, was found guilty by a jury yesterday, July 15, 2009, of one felony count of second degree murder and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison at his sentencing on Sept. 18, 2009, in Department-38, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
On Feb. 16, 2008, Gandarilla was drinking alcoholic beverages at La Hacienda Club in Long Beach with his friend, 29-year-old Fernando Flores. After drinking for several hours, Gandarilla left the bar and drove toward Los Alamitos in his Mitsubishi Eclipse with Flores seated in the front passenger seat.
At approximately 11:00 p.m., Gandarilla exited the Interstate 605 at Katella Avenue and began travelling eastbound before suddenly turning left on Siboney Street into the Los Alamitos Race Course. The defendant did not move into the left turn lanes and turned against a red left turn arrow in front of a Chevrolet Tahoe occupied by four people, which was passing legally through the intersection on a green light. The driver of the Tahoe, 19-year-old Joseph Beloise, was unable to stop in time to avoid Gandarilla and collided with the passenger side door of Gandarilla’s car.
Gandarilla’s passenger, Flores, suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries and was killed as a result of the impact from the crash. One passenger in Beloise’s car suffered minor injuries. Two hours after the crash, Gandarilla had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent.
Gandarilla has a previous conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in Los Angeles County in 2005, for which he participated in court ordered educational programs about the dangers of driving while intoxicated. Just six months later, he was involved in a solo vehicle crash in Los Angeles County, where he is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .33 percent. A criminal case is pending for that alcohol-related crash.
Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.