BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A prosecutor asked jurors to return guilty verdicts against a man she said drove 93 mph with a blood-alcohol content 2.5 times the legal limit in a crash that killed one passenger and injured three others.
Prosecutor Tara Deal said in her closing argument Monday the evidence was clear: Jose Miranda-Cruz acted grossly negligent and was intoxicated in a single-vehicle crash last year. She said he drove so fast the vehicle shook, scaring female passengers whom he ignored when asked to slow down.
Miranda-Cruz, 23, is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury and driving without a license and insurance. Passenger Edixon Guardado Velasco, 20, died at the scene of the Jan. 16, 2022, crash on Morning Drive at College Avenue in east Bakersfield. Three female passengers were injured.
Deputy Public Defender Nick Roth asked the jury to closely examine the definition of gross negligence and the standards that must be met for it to apply.
“The mere fact of intoxication in and of itself is not enough,” Roth said in his closing argument.
Roth, who represents Miranda-Cruz along with co-counsel Deputy Public Defender Samantha Sark, argued there were contradictions in the testimony of the surviving passengers and issues with the speed calculations an officer performed based on tire friction marks. He also questioned the blood-alcohol content reading, saying it’s possible Miranda-Cruz’s blood-alcohol level was much lower at the time of the crash and rose from the time of his arrest until when his blood was drawn.
The evidence did not rise to the level of gross negligence, he said.
It’s alleged Miranda-Cruz had a BAC of 0.20% — the legal limit is 0.08% — and hit 93 mph before slamming on the brakes as he lost control on Morning Drive. The vehicle left the roadway and tumbled down an embankment.
In her rebuttal argument, Deal said the defense made a bunch of excuses for Miranda-Cruz’s behavior.
“They focused on all the tiny details that really don’t matter,” she said.
What’s important is Miranda-Cruz drove while under the influence of alcohol and his actions were grossly negligent, Deal said. She asked the jury to focus only on reasonable conclusions and not get distracted by defense arguments.
Closing arguments ended shortly after 3 p.m. The jury then went to a room to begin deliberating.