Let's say you're preparing to turn left in your truck into an apartment complex, see distance traffic approaching and accelerate into the driveway. But a speeding Mercedes strikes the rear portion of your truck, slamming your vehicle into a pedestrian standing on the sidewalk. In that scenario which driver is at fault for the pedestrian's death?
To Orange County's Joel Torrejon Miranda, that hypothetical is all too real and he, the driver of the truck, insists the driver of the Mercedes, Nguyen Tran, is “substantially” at fault for the tragic death of pedestrian Francisco Aquino after the Feb. 1, 2009, incident on Newhope Street in Santa Ana.
Miranda, who'd been undertaking a 43-foot drive to pick up his girlfriend's nine-year-old daughter from a neighboring apartment complex, claims Tran recklessly drove by speeding almost 60 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Tran claims he was going no more than 40 mph.
A defense attorney for Miranda added that Tran should be responsible because he “had the last chance to avoid this accident.”
Inside Orange County Superior Court, prosecutors rejected that notion and won a gross vehicular manslaughter conviction against Miranda in Oct. 2010.
But Miranda, who is now in a California prison, claims he's been railroaded and he wants federal judges to overturn his conviction as a travesty of justice.
This month, U.S. District Court Judge George H. King rejected the appeal for the same good reason previously cited by a state appellate court.
On the night of the incident, Miranda said he'd consumed only two beers, but police–who'd searched and found him sleeping on a relative's couch after he'd illegally fled the scene of the fatality–believe he lied about his drinking. Using lab calculations, law enforcement experts say his blood alcohol content (BAC) level registered a whopping .25 at the time of the accident.
(Note: .25 is certainly an incoherent stage but also nearing potential death-by-booze status.)
Miranda, who'd previously been caught driving drunk, continues to maintain that the BAC number is unfairly deceptive because he recalls driving “fine.”
Upshot: He'll continue to serve his 20 years to life term inside lovely Folsom State Prison.
He apparently still doesn't understand he should have just walked the 43 feet to retrieve his girlfriend's daughter.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott 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; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.