Drunk Driver Blames Dead Victim For His Orange County Murder Conviction

Angel Herrera Leal of Los Angeles suffered two prior drunk driving convictions before one night in December 2008 when he (and a mostly consumed Tequila bottle) entered his pickup truck and drove south on Interstate 5 to Orange County.

Once he got to Santa Ana, a heavily intoxicated Leal, who didn't possess a valid driver's license, slammed into another car, killing one woman and seriously injuring another.

California Highway Patrol officers arrested the 28-year-old Leal, the Orange County District Attorney's office charged him with second degree murder, a 2010 jury convicted him and Superior Court Judge James Edward Rogan sentenced him to a prison term of 15 years to life.

Believing his conviction was unfair, Leal appealed. He argued his damning blood-alcohol tests weren't valid, his post-crash statements to CHP cops shouldn't have been admitted to a jury and, get a load of this, his 29-year-old victim, Rebecca Moon, was responsible for her gruesome death because she wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision.

This week, a three-member panel of a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered and rejected the arguments in a 12-page decision written by Justice Raymond Ikola.

Leal's cause probably wasn't helped by an alarming fact.

He caused the fatal crash by driving northbound in the southbound I-5 highway lanes at 4:45 a.m. near Santa Ana's 17th Street exit.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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