A repeat drunken driver who fled a California Highway Patrol officer while racing, before eventually crashing in Oceanside and killing his brother-in-law, pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter.
Jorge Luis Lopez, 23, also admitted to charges of drunken driving with injury, reckless evasion causing injury, participating in a speed contest causing death, assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, according to Deputy District Attorney Geoff Allard.
The prosecutor said Lopez will get 19 years in prison when he is sentenced by Superior Court Judge Carlos Armour on July 24.
Authorities said Lopez, was speeding in a 1991 Honda Civic alongside a westbound sedan – apparently racing the other motorist – when an officer spotted him on state Route 78 near College Boulevard shortly before 1 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2012.
The other driver slowed down, but Lopez refused to yield and fled at speeds up to about 100 mph, soon merging onto northbound Interstate 5, according to CHP public-affairs Officer Jim Bettencourt.
Lopez exited onto Mission Avenue and headed east before turning south on Mesa Drive, allegedly continuing on at about 80 mph before hitting a dip in the road, veering out of control and crashing into a parked pickup truck near Mesa and Pajama drives.
The defendant was airlifted to Scripps La Jolla Hospital for treatment of his injuries but his passenger, Marco Gutierrez, 21, of Oceanside, died at the scene of the wreck.
Prosecutors said at an earlier hearing that Lopez had a prior DUI conviction and three speeding citations, including one in which he was going more than 100 mph.
– City News Service
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