BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Vincent Moroyoqui has testified he wasn’t impaired when his pickup slammed into a car on Taft Highway, killing a woman and her adult daughter.
It wasn’t until after the crash, distraught over what had happened, that he drank enough alcohol to send his blood-alcohol content soaring to more than three times the legal limit, he testified.
Prosecutor Kim Richardson on Tuesday called that explanation a lie.
Richardson, during her hour-long closing argument in Moroyoqui’s murder trial, said he came up with that story to try to manipulate the jury into believing he wasn’t intoxicated at the time of the crash yet somehow became impaired 20 minutes later. The evidence does not support that assertion, she said.
Moroyoqui, 36, is charged with crimes including two counts of second-degree murder and faces a life term in prison if convicted. He has three DUI convictions, and the law allows a person to be charged with murder if they have a prior DUI conviction and subsequently drive under the influence in an incident in which another person dies as a result.
Moroyoqui has admitted to speeding the evening of July 20, 2017, before slamming head-on into the car, killing Raeleen Sorensen, 50, and Raegan Sorensen, 20. Pictures were shown in court Tuesday of the wreckage, and of the Sorensens’ bodies in the coroner’s office.
David A. Torres, Moroyoqui’s attorney, has argued his client is guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter due to his excessive speeding and reckless driving. He’s not guilty of murder, Torres said, because he wasn’t impaired while driving.
Richardson, however, said there are multiple pieces of evidence pointing toward Moroyoqui’s intoxication.
For one, she told the jury, Moroyoqui has admitted to drinking four beers and a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey before getting behind the wheel. He testified that amount of alcohol didn’t impair him, which Richardson said is simply not believable.
Moroyoqui testified he downed a pint of beer and more whiskey after the crash, which he claims is when he became impaired. But Richardson noted witnesses to the crash who stopped at the scene testified they never saw Moroyoqui drinking alcohol.
“I submit to you that it’s just incredible,” Richardson said of Moroyoqui’s testimony. “It didn’t happen.”
Also, no whiskey bottle was found at the scene. Moroyoqui testified he threw the bottle into a nearby orchard, but Richardson said his statement on the witness stand marked the first time he ever said anything about getting rid of the bottle.
Moroyoqui was convicted of DUI in 2002, 2008 and 2009. For the last two convictions, Richardson said, Moroyoqui signed a Watson advisal acknowledging he’d been told if he drove while impaired and someone died as a result he could be charged with murder.
But instead of taking those warnings to heart, she said, Moroyoqui was dismissive of them. He said he never believed he’d be involved in a crash.
“Well, guess what?” Richardson said. “It happened, and we’re here.”
Torres begins his closing argument Wednesday morning.