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Hearing postponed for competency test of accused 2014 DUI driver

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A hearing was postponed Monday to March 23 to give a doctor more time to clarify a report on whether a man accused of driving drunk in 2014 and veering off a freeway near Lakeside, killing two passengers, is mentally competent to stand trial.

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Mario Alberto Carranza, 28, is charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter and DUI.

A doctor’s report submitted last year concluded that Carranza is mentally competent to stand trial, but defense attorney George Siddell asked that the doctor amend his report to decisively state that Carranza understands the charges against him and can assist Siddell at trial.

Carranza — who has a 2007 DUI conviction — faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted in the April 19, 2014, crash that killed Monica Lupercio and Carlos Vargas, both 20.

Prosecutors allege that Carranza was drunk when he drifted into the center divider on westbound Interstate 8 near Lake Jennings Road. Carranza overcorrected, sending his car through a chain-link fence, according to the California Highway Patrol. The car landed in a concrete culvert, killing Lupercio and Vargas.

Carranza, who was seriously injured, was tested at a hospital after the crash and had a blood-alcohol level nearly four times above the legal limit for driving, prosecutors said.

—City News Service

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