A man who drove while intoxicated and crashed in La Jolla, killing his two passengers, was sentenced Friday to eight years in state prison.
In January, Peter John Meno, 28, was convicted by a San Diego jury of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI counts.
The Nov. 22, 2020, crash killed Jaden Rowley, 22, of Oceanside, and Matthew “Max” Cate, 19, of Vista.
According to prosecutors, Meno had been drinking and was driving at the time of the crash on a suspended license due to prior tickets for speeding and running a red light.
Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright alleged that Meno was driving up to 85 mph prior to the 3:15 a.m. crash, which sent his car into two trees while he was attempting to turn onto Girard Avenue from Torrey Pines Road.
Family members of both victims chastised Meno for statements he made on the stand in which they suggested he blamed the victims for causing the crash.
Meno testified that both Rowley and Cate had unfastened their seat belts, stuck their bodies partially out of the car’s windows while it was moving and that he attempted to pull them back into the vehicle while simultaneously driving.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Evan Kirvin noted Meno’s testimony at Friday’s sentencing hearing, in which the judge said Meno testified something to the effect of “If my friends did not behave the way they did, they would be standing here today.”
Kirvin said, “It seems that there’s been a constant theme from the defendant of trying to shift blame towards the victims in this case rather than taking accountability for his own actions.”
The judge also said Meno lied to police officers who responded to the crash scene by stating that he was forced to swerve in order to avoid another car. The judge said he made a similar statement about the presence of another car while testifying, then admitted that he had lied.
At the hearing, Meno told the victims’ families, “I am so sorry for my bad choices that night and for the heartache and the pain that I may have caused.”
– City News Service