MADERA – Richard Farias, 57, of Madera, was convicted on two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter on Tuesday, Nov. 20, by a Superior Court jury.
The jury also found Farias guilty of two additional felony counts of causing great bodily injury to another person while driving under the influence, and Farias’s prior conviction for driving under the influence and injuring another, according to Madera County District Attorney Michael R. Keitz.The jury deadlocked on two counts of second degree murder in the 10-day trial that began on Oct. 23, in the Madera Superior Court.
A number of witnesses gave testimony that on Nov. 13, 2010, Farias was driving at excessive speeds on Avenue 14 near Madera, while under the influence, with three passengers in his vehicle.
Deborah Lyon and Marcel Rodriguez, both of Madera, were killed when the vehicle swerved off the road and rolled over numerous times before landing in a field.
A third passenger, Valentino Valdez, was seriously injured but survived the crash.
Sentencing and trial setting are scheduled for Jan. 7, 2013, when Farias will be eligible to receive up to 18 years to life in state prison for the four felony convictions.
Madera County District Attorney Michael R. Keitz praised the efforts of the California Highway Patrol and Senior Deputy District Attorney Matthew Pfeffer in obtaining the convictions.
“Two families were devastated when their loved ones were killed, and a third person was seriously injured through Mr. Farias’s reckless action and disregard for the law,” said Keitz. “These convictions carry an important message which is always true, and especially as the holiday season approaches: don’t ever drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Far too many lives have been tragically taken, and families disrupted through this deadly combination.”