A Dec. 1 trial date was set Wednesday for 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.
Jason Riley King, 22, is charged with second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI in the May 16 deaths of 23-year-old Madison Cornwell and one of her passengers, 24-year-old Anne Li Baldock.
King pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday during his Superior Court arraignment. The case was assigned to Judge Peter Deddeh.
One of the passengers in Cornwell’s vehicle, UCSD medical student Stosh Ozog, testified during a preliminary hearing last month 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.”
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.
— City News Service
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