[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny
77°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
March 26
1821 - SCV (with the rest of Alta Calif.) becomes territory of Mexico during war for Mexican independence from Spain [story]
map


| Friday, Mar 15, 2019
Law enforcement personnel examine a vehicle involved in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 that killed six people. | Photo: Courtesy of Rick McClure.
Law enforcement personnel examine a vehicle involved in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 that killed six people. | Photo: Courtesy of Rick McClure.

 

After six weeks of testimony and evidence presented at the trial of a commercial driver charged with six counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, the prosecution began delivering her closing arguments.

Deputy District Attorney Jamie Castro dimmed the lights of the second-floor courtroom inside the San Fernando Superior Courthouse on Thursday to display the title page of her overhead presentation: “People vs. Richard Lopez.”

Lopez, 71, his jet-black hair combed straight back, is the veteran commercial trucker on trial. He sat quietly beside his lawyer as the prosecutor made her case, as he has for the last seven weeks.

“This has been a long time,” she told the jury, thanking them for their patience. “You have been extremely attentive. It’s not been easy on anyone.

“You have a tremendous amount of evidence to consider,” she added. “But just as important, is who we didn’t hear from.”

Castro clicked to the next overhead image of her presentation — a photo collage of smiling faces, two women and four preschool children.

“We are here, but these six individuals are not — two mothers and their four children. They’re not here because of the negligence of one man: the defendant, Richard Lopez.

“These are the six individuals we really have not talked about,” she said.

Gorman
Lopez is charged with six misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter for allegedly having struck a minivan with his Freightliner truck at 3:37 a.m. on June 28, 2016, in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, just south of Gorman School Road.

The two women who died inside the burning 2016 Toyota Sienna minivan were Connie Wu Li and Flora Kuang, both 33. The children killed in the same vehicle were Jayden Li, 5; Lucas Li, 3; Sky Ng, 4; and Venus Ng, 2.

They were on their way to Legoland, Castro told the jury, to celebrate the birthday of one of children.

“These individuals were the public,” Castro said. “Traveling public roads from Northern California to Southern California, going on family trips,

“That’s why we have rules for our roadways,” she said. “But because of the defendant’s negligence, they are all now dead.”

After reminding jurors of the evidence presented over the past month and a half — testimony of the first CHP officer to arrive at the crash, the in-depth accident reconstruction prepared by the CHP’s specially trained Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team and the testimony of a veteran trucker similar to Lopez who saw the disabled van and avoided it — she turned her attention to the “elephant in the room.”

Elephant in the room
The “elephant in the room” was the traffic collision preceding the fatal one by 10 minutes, in which a BMW traveling at more than 100 miles per hour clipped the van, rendering it disabled and protruding into an adjacent lane.

“There has been a lot of discussion about the BMW,” Castro told the jury. “It has become the elephant in the room. You have not met the driver of the BMW. It is not part of this case.

“This is about the collision between the Freightliner and the van.

“And, you may say ‘The BMW driver was driving reckless and fast, why isn’t he charged with something?’ It’s what you’re curious about. That’s normal. But, you need to keep your focus.

“It is not responsible for the crash,” she said, pointing out that the collision involving the BMW happened 10 minutes before the fatal crash happened.

To make her point, Castro posed a hypothetical case for jurors.

“Let’s say the BMW crash sidelined the van and it was to the side of the road, then a band of robbers came by, kidnapped the kids, stole the possessions. Does that mean the (BMW) driver is responsible for the crimes?”

Trucker comparison
Castro also spent time comparing Lopez to the veteran trucker who spotted the disabled van about two minutes after the BMW collision and phoned 911 to report the traffic hazard posed by the disabled van.

She described Victor Ficek, who testified at the trial, as having the same amount trucking experience as Lopez, who “traveled the same roadways, traveled the same stretch through the Grapevine.

“You want to talk about a reasonable person,” she said. “Look at Victor Ficek. He discerned the van from over a thousand feet away. He knew exactly where the BMW was.

“The defendant didn’t see the BMW and that’s because he was so negligent. He was so fatigued. You have a negligent individual who killed six people in a very fatigued state.”

The prosecution is expected to continue making its closing arguments Friday.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019
UCLA, USC Coaches in Admissions Scandal Arraigned; Plead Not Guilty
BOSTON (CN) – The first batch of defendants in the admissions bribery scandal was arraigned today in Boston, with a dozen college sports coaches and school administrators pleading not guilty to federal racketeering charges.
Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019
Cobblestone Cottage Closing After More than 3 Decades in Business
Years before the Westfield Valencia Town Center would be developed across the street, a 900-square-foot boutique made its debut and began a journey that would see more than three decades of change.
Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019
Policy Committee Approves Wilk Bill Aimed at Solving Homeless Crisis
SACRAMENTO - Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) announced on Monday the Senate Committee on Human Serves unanimously approved Senate Bill 333 (SB 333), a measure to address California's homeless crisis by requiring the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) develop and implement a long-term, strategic plan to combat homelessness across the state, complete with specific goals and benchmarks.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The SCV Charity Chili Cook-off took place Thursday, March 21, at The Oaks Club at Valencia (formerly the TPC). The annual event benefits a local nonprofit organization every year.
SCV Charity Chili Cook-off Winners Announced
The Santa Clarita Valley (SCV) VegFest, is proud to announce the national nonprofit organization The Gentle Barn, as their new presenting sponsor. In addition, organizers of Santa Clarita’s first-ever vegan festival, have also announced that 20% of the proceeds from the one-day outdoor festival will benefit Kakao, Charity Water and local nonprofit organizations Bridge to Home and Family Promise.
SCV Vegan Fest to Benefit Local Nonprofits; Announces Presenting Sponsor
VICTOR VALLEY — College of the Canyons golfers Matthew Mansholt and Nobuhiko Wakaari took the top two individual spots and the Cougars rolled to a fifth straight tourney victory to remain leaders in the Western State Conference (WSC).
Cougars Golf Roll to 5th Straight Tourney Win
This week's golf meet featured a career-best finish, a preview of what should be a hyper-competitive conference tournament and a new team motto.
Mustang’s Senior Penalber Leads TMU Golf in Indio
BOSTON (CN) – The first batch of defendants in the admissions bribery scandal was arraigned today in Boston, with a dozen college sports coaches and school administrators pleading not guilty to federal racketeering charges.
UCLA, USC Coaches in Admissions Scandal Arraigned; Plead Not Guilty
NORTHRIDGE — Jillian James tossed a one-hitter against Saint Mary's before CSUN dropped a 14-2 decision to No. 1 UCLA Sunday afternoon at Matador Diamond.
CSUN Shuts Out Saint Mary’s; Falls to Top-Ranked UCLA
SAN LUIS OBISPO - The CSUN women's tennis team (10-4) had their winning streak snapped Sunday as the Matadors fell to the Mustangs, 4-3 in a close Big West conference bout.
Matadors Winning Streak Snapped by Cal Poly Mustangs
The city of Santa Clarita's Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission will be holding a special meeting Thursday, March 28, at 8:30 a.m.
March 28: Parks, Recreation & Community Services Special Meeting
Palmdale Water District (PWD), in collaboration with Angeles National Forest and Friends of Littlerock Dam, will hold a joint Littlerock Dam Community Information & Tour Day at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, April 6.
April 6: Littlerock Dam Community Information & Tour Day
A Royal Princess arrived at the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday – that is, the 3,560-guest Princess Cruises ship – now here to take travelers to sought-after destinations including the Mexican Riviera, the California Coast and Alaska.
‘Royal’ Fanfare for LA’s Newest Homeport Cruise Ship
California State University, Northridge’s youth summer camps will return this June for social enrichment activities that can guide children in critical thinking, athletics, problem solving and innovation, leaving them with a memorable summer experience.
Registration Now Open for CSUN’s Youth Summer Camps
LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers, winners of six consecutive division titles and back-to-back National League pennants, will kick off the 2019 season Thursday with Opening Day presented by Bank of America at 1:10 p.m. against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers to Honor Don Newcombe on Opening Day
Here is the list of what is currently filming in the Santa Clarita Valley for the week of March 25-31, 2019:
‘Bless this Mess,’ ‘NCIS LA,’ ‘Buried in the Backyard’ Now Filming in SCV
Flair Cleaners Valencia will host the Flair Cares Prom Dress Collection April 1 - April 30 to benefit Becca’s Closet, a nonprofit providing formal attire for local high school youth who cannot afford new dresses.
April 1-30: Flair Cares Prom Dress Collection
Years before the Westfield Valencia Town Center would be developed across the street, a 900-square-foot boutique made its debut and began a journey that would see more than three decades of change.
Cobblestone Cottage Closing After More than 3 Decades in Business
SACRAMENTO - Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) announced on Monday the Senate Committee on Human Serves unanimously approved Senate Bill 333 (SB 333), a measure to address California's homeless crisis by requiring the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) develop and implement a long-term, strategic plan to combat homelessness across the state, complete with specific goals and benchmarks.
Policy Committee Approves Wilk Bill Aimed at Solving Homeless Crisis
Circle of Hope, Inc. announced Monday its Executive Director, Pam Ripling, is retiring and the organization is currently seeking her replacement.
Circle of Hope Executive Director to Retire
1821 - SCV (with the rest of Alta Calif.) becomes territory of Mexico during war for Mexican independence from Spain [story]
map
The internationally acclaimed exhibition "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983" made its West Coast debut at The Broad in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.
Chouinard Alums Featured in ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983’
Earlier this month, Library Journal named CalArts Reference & Instruction Librarian Marisa Méndez-Brady a 2019 "Mover & Shaker, "the trade publication’s annual award for “people shaping the future of libraries.”
CalArts Librarian Named 2019 ‘Mover & Shaker’ by Library Journal
The Mustangs beat San Diego Christian 4-1 and 3-2 in Lakeside on Saturday to complete a four-game sweep of the Hawks and move into a share of first place in GSAC standings.
Brooks Earns 700th Win in Mustang Sweep of San Diego
In light of how far the group has already come, TMU track and field coach Zach Schroeder is confident his 4x800-meter relay can go a little faster.
TMU Track & Field Shines at Westmont Collegiate Classic
The Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission will hold a special meeting on Thursday, March 28, starting at 8:30 a.m.
March 28: Parks, Recreation, Community Services Special Meeting
The Santa Clarita Community College District's Board of Trustees will hold a joint business meeting with representatives of the Associated Student Government at College of the Canyons' Valencia Campus on Wednesday, March 27.
March 27: COC Board of Trustees, ASG Joint Business Meeting
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold its next regular and special meetings on Tuesday, March 26.
March 26: City Council Legislative, Special, Regular Meetings
On Friday in Lakeside, right-handed hitting senior Anthony Lepre's entire repertoire was on display in a doubleheader against San Diego Christian.
Lepre’s Big Day Powers Mustangs to Wins Over Hawks
A motorcyclist hurt and taken to the hospital Monday morning narrowly missed being run over by a big rig, one of the rescuing paramedics said.
Motorcyclist Hurt in Crash, Narrowly Misses Big-Rig Collision
California 38th District Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) authored and submitted 14 bills prior to the Feb. 22 legislative submission deadline, tackling issues like education, human trafficking, and public safety.
Smith Introduces 14 Bills for Current Sacramento Session
This year’s annual Castaic Dam Run at Castaic Lake on Saturday, April 13 will offer more fun for families as the event will also include the community’s first-ever Gnome Festival, featuring a Kids’ Gnome Parade.
April 13: Annual Castaic Dam Run, First Gnome Festival, Kids’ Parade
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Captain Timothy K. Murakami has been promoted to Undersheriff, according to a news release from the LASD's Information Bureau.
Murakami Promoted to LASD Undersheriff
After weeks of informational picketing and mediation, College of the Canyons and its full-time faculty members have reached a tentative agreement that would end an ongoing dispute between the two sides.
COC, Full-Time Faculty Reach Tentative Agreement
SCV Water’s FY 2018/19 Budget has been recognized, locally by the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers, and nationally by the Government Finance Officers Association, for meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.
SCV Water Wins 2 Prestigious Awards for Inaugural Budget
Predicting that the public will not see the full report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, Senator Lindsey Graham noted Monday that material covered by executive privilege will likely be kept under wraps.
Graham Expects Some of Mueller Report to Stay Secret
A pedestrian is in stable condition after a man accused of drunken driving drove over a man’s leg on the 23000 block of Drayton Street in Santa Clarita on Sunday.
Deputies Hold Suspect After Man’s Leg is Run Over Outside Homeless Shelter
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Court Services Division Chief Robin Limon has been promoted to Assistant Sheriff for LASD, according to the Sheriff's Information Bureau.
LASD Promotes Robin Limon to Assistant Sheriff
1889 - Castaic School District established [story]
Castaic siding