LOS ANGELES - A California appeals court panel on Tuesday, April 6, decided that second-degree murder charges will be reinstated against a trucker whose runaway big rig killed a man and his 12-year-old daughter near Los Angeles a year ago, the Associated Press reported.
The three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled there was ample evidence against Marcos Barboza Costa to warrant second-degree murder counts, and that Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench had erred when she dismissed those counts back in October.
"We conclude there is some rational ground for assuming the possibility that Costa was aware of the risk to human life posed by continuing to drive his large semi-trailer down the highway, and that he consciously and deliberately disregarded that risk," the court wrote in its decision.
Costa's defense attorney, Steve Meister, characterized the court decision as an act of vengeance.
"The people who are supposed to be the responsible players in our justice system thirst for my client's blood and want his head on a stick," Meister said.
Back on April 1, 2009, Costa was hauling cars in a double-decker rig over the San Gabriel Mountains when his brakes failed on the steep Angeles Crest Highway above La Cañada Flintridge. The rig hit a car, killing Angel Posca and his daughter, Angelia, of Palmdale. Then the rig collided with four other vehicles before smashing into a bookstore and a nail salon, injuring three others.
Prosecutors argued that Costa ignored a warning sign that said rigs the size and weight of his were prohibited from driving that stretch of highway. An inspection of the truck after the crash revealed that five of the 10 brakes either were not working or were not adjusted correctly and would have required the vehicle to be put out of service, AP reported. The five working brakes showed signs of overheating or cracking on the pads, court documents said.
Costa is schedule to return to court on April 30.