Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
September 30, 2009
Susan Kang Schroeder
SERIAL DRUNKEN DRIVER INDICTED FOR KILLING MAN BY PINNING HIM BETWEEN TRUCK AND WALL WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver with three prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol was indicted yesterday for killing one man and injuring another after causing a car crash in Santa Ana, pinning one pedestrian victim between his car and a block wall. Joel Torrejon Miranda, 41, Santa Ana, was indicted by the grand jury on one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with prior convictions and a sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter. The defendant has three prior convictions for driving under the influence in 1995, 1997, and 2004. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in state prison if convicted and is being held on $1 million bail. Miranda was arraigned on the indictment today and is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 23, 2009, in Department C-39, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) charged Miranda in March 2009, and received a superseding indictment yesterday, Sept. 29, 2009. The OCDA released a press release in March 2009 with the following information regarding the crime:
At approximately 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2009, Miranda is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol southbound on Newhope Street in Santa Ana in his Chevrolet pick-up truck with two female passengers. He is accused of suddenly making an unsafe left turn across the northbound lanes in front of oncoming traffic. Victim Nguyen Tran, 36, was driving northbound on Newhope Street in his Mercedes-Benz sedan and hit his brakes but was unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with Miranda’s truck. Tran’s car came to a stop and he called 9-1-1.
After crashing into Tran, Miranda’s truck went up the curb. Miranda is accused of hitting 44-year-old pedestrian Francisco Aquino with his truck, pinning the victim between the truck and a block wall. Miranda is accused of fleeing the scene, leaving his two female passengers seated in the vehicle.
Officers from the Santa Ana Police Department arrived and found several opened beer containers on the floor of the cab and bed of the truck. Aquino was transported to UCI Medical Center with severe head injuries. He died on Feb. 3, 2009. Tran suffered minor injuries to his arm and back.
Officers located Miranda at his home approximately 40 minutes after the crash. The defendant is accused of displaying objective signs of alcohol intoxication including emitting a strong odor of alcohol, slurring his speech, having bloodshot and watery eyes, and staggering as he walked. At approximately 8:50 p.m., more than an hour and a half after the crash, Miranda is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .23 percent, almost three times the legal limit.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.