Murder sentence upheld in drunk driving case

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The murder conviction and life prison term has been upheld for a drunken driver who killed a popular young woman in a horrific intersection accident four years ago.

Alex Anthony Rubio was 27 in January 2014 when he crashed into a car driven by Princess Almonidovar, 22.

On appeal, Rubio claimed there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him and that evidence of his blood-alcohol level should not have been admitted at trial. The three justices of the appeals court unanimously disagreed with both contentions.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Simson won the conviction. He’s part of a special unit in the DA’s office that handles drunk driving cases.

Rubio was driving a Chrysler 300 sedan south on New Stine Road at about 3 a.m. when he ran a red light at Ming Avenue and hit the Toyota driven by Almonidovar, who was eastbound on Ming, according to evidence at trial.

He was driving 118 mph with his accelerator pedal fully depressed, according to evidence at trial.

The broadside impact sent the Chrysler through the air. It overturned and landed on its top more than two football fields away from the point of impact, the appeals decision said. Half the Toyota’s roof was found near the wreckage of the larger car. Some of the victim’s hair was found on bumper of the Chrysler, it said.

Almonidovar was killed instantly, but Rubio was not injured. He ran from the scene and hid from police, according to the appeal. When officers found him, he ran again. Officers had to climb three 6-foot fences during the foot pursuit that followed. When they finally caught him, officers had to fight him to get him into handcuffs. “Rubio was belligerent, hostile, extremely angry, disrespectful to officers and shouting profanities,” the opinion said.

Rubio asked the officers, “How bad did that chick f— up my car?” according to the appeals decision. “When Officer Bittleston did not respond, Rubio stated, ‘Come on, man. How bad is my car f—– up?’”

Breath and blood tests showed Rubio’s blood alcohol level was 0.13 percent three hours after the accident. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Tests also showed Almonidovar had blood alcohol level of 0.12  percent.

He was charged with second degree murder, which can be defined as a death stemming from an act “the natural consequences of which are dangerous to life and with the knowledge of its danger to life and a conscious disregard of that danger.”

Rubio testified at trial.

He denied he was traveling more than 100 mph. He said he had a green light.

“Rubio testified that he did not think it was dangerous to drink and drive and believed himself to be ‘fine’ to drive with a 0.08 percent blood-alcohol concentration, according to the appeals decision.

“He believed it safe to drive down New Stine Road at a speed of 75 mph …” the decision said.

Jurors were not persuaded.

Rubio was convicted of second-degree murder and four other crimes. He was sentenced in December 2015 to 15 years to life in prison.

On appeal, Rubio contended, “the evidence is insufficient to support a finding of implied malice as required to support his conviction for second degree murder,” the opinion said.

“He acknowledges evidence that he drove at a speed ‘more than twice the posted speed limit and possibly disregarded a red light,’ but contends this does not support a finding of implied malice because he did so at an hour when few other drivers were on the road, he was not ‘driving unsafely’ prior to the collision, his level of alcohol intoxication was not ‘extraordinarily high,’ his exposure to warnings about the dangers of reckless or intoxicated driving was minimal, and his conduct was less aggravated than that found in other vehicular murder cases,” the opinion said.

Justices were not persuaded and confirmed the conviction and sentence.

Now 29, Rubio is serving a life term at Avenal State Prison. His first parole hearing set for 2027.

The case is Peo. v. Alex Anthony Rubio: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/nonpub/F073217.PDF

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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