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.
–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.