Man Convicted in Crash that Killed 2 in Anaheim

SANTA ANA (CNS) – A 29-year-old man was convicted Friday of a drunken driving crash that killed two men in Anaheim two years ago.

Jose Guadalupe Salasmaria was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and single counts each of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury and driving under the influence of alcohol and a drug while causing injury, all felonies, as well as sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily injury on the victim who survived. Salasmaria, who is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 26, faces up to 36 years to life in prison.

When Salasmaria was previously convicted of drunken driving in April 2012, he was warned by a judge that instead of vehicular manslaughter he would face murder charges if he caused a deadly DUI collision. He also had to take alcohol education and Mothers Against Drunk Driving classes as part of his sentence, Deputy District Attorney Brian Orue said.

Salasmaria killed 30-year-old Ruben Cuevas and 24-year-old George Moreno and injured Ramon Cuevas, Orue said.

“The defendant in this case disregarded some of the most basic and simple laws and rules that were created to protect everyone, including him,” Orue said in his opening statement of the trial.

He was driving a 2013 Mazda CX-9 about 8:20 p.m. May 23, 2020, when he collided with a 2016 Nissan Versa at Olive Street and La Palma Avenue, Orue said.

Salasmaria¬†¬†ran a “stale red light” while driving east on La Palma, Orue said. Before that, he ran a red light at Lemon Street, Orue said. He was going 68 mph at the time of the collision in excess of the 35 mph limit, Orue said.

Salasmaria said he drank a beer while at work during a lunch break, then after completing work, continued drinking tall cans of Budweiser in the parking lot with co-workers, who passed around a marijuana pipe, Orue alleged.

Then Salasmaria proceeded “driving around Anaheim until disaster strikes,” Orue said. Ruben Cuevas was driving the Versa, Moreno was in the backseat and Cuevas was in the front passenger seat.

Police found four empty beer cans in the Salasmaria’s car and two unopened beers, Orue said. And his lights were off at the time of the collision.

Salasmaria had his blood drawn about an hour after the crash at UC Irvine Medical Center and it showed he had a blood-alcohol level of about .30 — almost four times the legal limit of .08, Orue said. Another blood draw at 11:08 p.m. showed his blood-alcohol level at .257 to .254, or about three times the legal limit.

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