SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced Tuesday, Dec. 15, that a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Jury convicted Edgar Saul Rojas Morales of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and other felonies related to the death of Maria Rosas Medina of Santa Maria on Dec. 1, 2018.
The jury was not able to reach a unanimous verdict on the most serious charge of murder. On the charge of murder, the jury’s decision was split 11-1 in favor of guilt.
The jury convicted Morales, 25, of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, and driving on a suspended license. In a separate hearing, Superior Court Judge Jesse Marino found true the allegations that Morales had suffered two prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2014 and 2017 and a previous conviction for driving on a suspended license.
The deadly crash occurred at about 10:30 p.m., Dec. 1, 2018, on Thompson Road in Nipomo, when Morales, while impaired by alcohol, drove into the opposing lane of traffic, striking a car driven by Maricela Medina Marquez, 59, and occupied by Maria Rosas Medina, 82.
Medina died because of the collision. Marquez suffered moderate injuries.
Morales’s blood sample revealed a blood alcohol level of .157%, nearly twice the legal limit of .08%. Morales indicated that he felt “clumsy” and should not have been driving that evening in a statement to officers.
“The tragic and completely avoidable death of Ms. Medina is a sobering reminder that driving under the influence of alcohol is deadly, dangerous, and will not be tolerated in San Luis Obispo County,” said District Attorney Dow. “We are thankful for the difficult work carried out by this jury, particularly in light of the COVID-19 safety precautions and we respect the fact that they were unable to reach a verdict on the charge of murder.”
Morales faces a maximum sentence of over 15 years to life in state prison, based on this case and his prior convictions. A sentencing date has not yet been set. The case is next in court on Dec. 29, Superior Court Judge Jesse Marino presiding.
A copy of the charging document can be found here.
The California Highway Patrol investigated the case with the assistance of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Melissa Chabra and Nikhil Dandekar.