Lance Cpl. Jason Riley King is accused of drunken driving in the wrong-way crash that killed two medical students. Photo courtesy of News 8
Lance Cpl. Jason Riley King is accused of drunken driving in the wrong-way crash that killed two medical students. Photo courtesy of News 8

A judge refused Wednesday to dismiss murder charges against a former Miramar-based Marine accused of driving the wrong way while drunk, causing a head-on freeway collision that killed two UCSD medical students and injured three others.

Jason Riley King, 23, faces 30 years to life in prison plus 14 years if convicted of two counts of second-degree murder, DUI and other charges stemming from the May 16, 2015, collision that killed 23-year-old Madison Cornwell and one of her passengers, 24-year-old Anne Li Baldock.

Superior Court Judge Joan Weber said at least two people told the defendant that he was too drunk to drive when he got behind the wheel of his Ford F-350 truck outside a Mission Valley bar and subsequently drove southbound on northbound state Route 163, crashing head-on into the victims’ 2014 Prius.

For King to be convicted of murder, prosecutors would have to prove he had the knowledge that if he drove drunk, he could kill somebody, the judge said.

“There was extraordinarily reckless driving here. He knew he was driving drunk, right?” the judge asked one of King’s attorneys.

Defense attorney Matthew Terry said King did not intentionally drive recklessly, but  made a “simple, awful, awful, horrible mistake.”

The judge, who denied a defense motion to dismiss the charges, noted that when investigators asked him why he drove that night, King responded, “Because I’m stupid.”

King’s blood-alcohol content was about .14 percent at the time of the crash, according to a California Highway Patrol officer.

Trial is scheduled for March 20.

—City News Service