|For Immediate Release
Case # 09ZF0070
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
SERIAL DRUNKEN DRIVER SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR KILLING PEDESTRIAN WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL
SANTA ANA – A drunken driver with three prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol was sentenced today to 20 years to life in state prison for killing a pedestrian by causing a car crash in Santa Ana. Joel Torrejon Miranda, 42, Santa Ana, was found guilty by a jury Oct. 4, 2010, of 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.
At approximately 7:15 p.m. on Feb. 1, 2009, Miranda was driving under the influence of alcohol southbound on Newhope Street in Santa Ana after exiting an apartment complex driveway in his Chevrolet pick-up truck with two female passengers. He suddenly made 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 witnesses called 911.
After crashing into Tran, Miranda’s truck went up the curb and hit 44-year-old pedestrian Francisco Aquino. Miranda fled the scene, leaving his two female passengers seated in the vehicle.
Officers from the Santa Ana Police Department arrived at the scene and found beer containers in the bed of the truck. Aquino was transported to UCI Medical Center with severe head injuries. He died on Feb. 3, 2009.
Officers located Miranda at his home approximately an hour after the crash. The defendant displayed 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 had a blood alcohol level of .23 percent, almost three times the legal limit.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.