|For Immediate Release
Case # 09HF0538
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
TRIAL TO BEGIN FOR DISTRACTED DRIVER CHARGED WITH KILLING PEDESTRIAN IN CROSSWALK
*Driver had been illegally sending text messages just prior to crash
SANTA ANA – A distracted driver faces trial Monday for killing a pedestrian in a crosswalk after failing to slow or stop. The driver had been illegally sending text messages just prior to the crash. Martin Burt Kuehl, 42, Costa Mesa, is charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence and faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison if convicted. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, Jan. 25, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-29, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Prior to the crash on Aug. 29, 2008, Kuehl is accused of illegally text messaging while driving westbound on Westcliff Drive in Newport Beach in a sport utility vehicle (SUV). The defendant is accused of not paying attention and not advancing when the light turned green, prompting a driver behind him to honk. At approximately 8:30 a.m., the defendant is accused of being distracted and failing to slow or stop as he approached a crosswalk, where 32-year-old Martha Ovalle was crossing the street. Kuehl is accused of hitting and killing the victim with his SUV. Ovalle was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force injuries.
Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.