Trial Begins for Man Accused of Killing 2 in DUI Crash

SANTA ANA (CNS) – A 29-year-old convicted drunken driver had nearly four times the legal limit of alcohol as well as marijuana in his system when the car he was driving slammed into another vehicle, killing two men and seriously injuring another in Anaheim, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.

Jose Guadalupe Salasmaria’s attorney Ronald MacGregor deferred making an opening statement.

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 is accused of killing 30-year-old Ruben Cuevas and 24-year- old George Moreno and injuring 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.

Salasmaria 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.

The defendant 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.

Salasmaria was going 68 mph at the time of the collision in excess of the 35 mph limit, Orue said.

The defendant said he drank a beer while at work during a lunch break and 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 when “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, Orue said.

Police found four empty beer cans in the defendant’s car and two unopened beers, Orue said. The defendant’s lights were off at the time of the collision as well, the prosecutor added.

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, 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, Orue said.

Salasmaria is charged with 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.

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