|For Immediate Release
Case # 07NF2363
June 12, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
THIRD-TIME DRUNKEN DRIVER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDERING
WOMAN IN FREEWAY CRASH
SANTA ANA – A third-time drunken driver was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for murdering a woman by crashing into her car and sending it spinning and flipping across the freeway. Octavio Conrado Cruz Rivera, 33, Fontana, was convicted by a jury on April 21, 2009, of one felony count of second degree murder.
In 2004 and 2005, Rivera had been convicted twice of driving under the influence (DUI). At the time of the crash, the defendant was on probation for the 2005 DUI conviction. As a result of both convictions, Rivera had completed alcohol education classes and Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim panels, during which he was informed of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and told that he could kill himself or someone else if he drove while intoxicated.
At approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 24, 2007, Rivera was speeding eastbound on California State Route 91 east of Imperial Highway while under the influence of alcohol. The defendant was driving home to Fontana from a party in Santa Ana. Rivera attempted to make a lane change at an unsafe speed and crashed into the rear of a Chevrolet sport utility vehicle driven by 49-year-old Katherine Aceves.
The force of the crash caused the victim’s car to spin out of control and flip over several times before slamming into two utility boxes on the shoulder of the freeway and coming to a stop in a ditch. Rivera’s car veered to the shoulder of the freeway and came to a stop. A witness to the accident pulled over and called 9-1-1.
Aceves, who had been driving home to Corona with her husband after watching his band perform, suffered blunt force trauma to the head. She was transported to the hospital and placed on life support for severe brain damage. Aceves died in the hospital as a result of her injuries on July 4, 2007. The victims’ husband suffered minor cuts and abrasions to the face as a result of the crash.
Officers from the California Highway Patrol responded to the crash and noticed an odor of alcohol on Rivera. Despite attempts to administer a preliminary alcohol screening test, the defendant continuously obstructed the officers by sticking his tongue in front of the breathalyzer mouth piece so that he could not breathe into it. A test of Rivera’s blood approximately two hours after the crash showed that the defendant had a blood alcohol level of .17 percent.
Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit prosecuted this case.