Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

A Miramar-based Marine accused of driving the wrong way on state Route 163 while drunk, causing a head-on crash that killed two UCSD medical students and seriously injured three of their classmates, was ordered today to stand trial on charges of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI.

Lance Cpl. Jason King, 21, is charged in the May 16 deaths of 23-year- old Madison Cornwell and one of her four passengers, 24-year-old Anne Li Baldock.

One of those passengers, UCSD medical student Stosh Ozog, testified during a daylong preliminary hearing that the victims left a celebration party in Hillcrest about 1:30 a.m.

Cornwell, the designated driver for the group, dropped off one person then proceeded onto northbound state Route 163, Ozog testified. The witness, who suffered broken vertebrae and a concussion, said he didn’t remember the accident, which happened when King allegedly drove southbound in the northbound lanes of the freeway just north of Interstate 8, sending his truck head-on into the victims’ 2014 Prius.

Authorities said friends told them that King had been drinking with buddies at a Mission Beach motel before leaving to meet a friend at a bar. One buddy told authorities he tried to get King to stay at the motel, but the defendant left.

Hannah Talbott, also a Marine and King’s best friend, testified that she met up with the defendant at a Mission Valley country-western bar about 11:30 p.m.

Talbott said both had drinks and played pool when she noticed King stumbling and told him they should leave and that he was in no condition to drive.

Talbott said she suggested going to her apartment, but King said “he got himself there and he was capable of getting himself home.”

Talbott said she had seen King drink too much at least five times before and said they both had attended a presentation on base a week earlier on the dangers of drinking and driving.

A manager at the country-western bar In Cahoots, Gary Martin, said an employee pointed King out to him as someone who may have had too much to drink or might have something wrong with him.

Martin said he escorted King outside, and later observed the defendant standing in the bed of his Ford F-350 truck.

The bar manager said he offered to call King a cab but the defendant said “I’m OK.”

California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Clinkscales testified that King told him at the hospital that he knew it was illegal to drink and drive and doing that could hurt or kill people.

“He told me that he probably shouldn’t have been driving,” Clinkscales testified.

The CHP officer said King’s blood-alcohol content was about a .14 percent at the time of the crash.

Judge Michael Smyth ruled that enough evidence was presented for King to stand trial. The defendant faces 47 years to life in prison if convicted. A Superior Court arraignment is scheduled for July 8.

City News Service