The driver of a runaway truck that killed two people near the Angeles Crest Highway on April 1st will not face murder charges. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says a judge has dismissed those charges.
After a big rig collided with a passenger car in La Canada Flintridge, officials called for more restrictions on trucks on the steep Angeles Crest Highway. The crash killed a man and his 12-year-old daughter and injured three other people.
The driver, whose truck was hauling cars when its brakes apparently failed, survived the collision. Prosecutors said he’d ignored posted warnings that it was illegal for large trucks to use the mountain road he took.
A Superior Court Judge in Pasadena determined that there’s insufficient evidence to show that the driver, Marcos Costa, intended to kill anyone. That removes the murder charges against him. But Costa still faces charges of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving.
Murder charges dismissed for trucker who caused Angeles Crest wreck
KPCC Wire Services
A judge today threw out charges against a long-haul trucker whose runaway big rig caused a wreck on Angeles Crest Highway that killed a 12-year-old Palmdale girl and her father.
Pasadena Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench granted a defense motion to dismiss the two murder counts against Marcos Barbosa Costa, but he still faces vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving charges for the April 1 deaths of Angelina Posca and her 58-year-old father Angel Jorge Posca.
Lench said there was insufficient evidence of intent to kill the two victims. Prosecutors are considering appealing the decision, a District Attorney's Office spokeswoman said.
Costo, a 44-year-old Brazilian national and Boston resident, was charged in June with two counts each of murder and vehicular manslaughter, as well as three counts of reckless driving causing injury to three other people. Two had concussions and one sustained a bone fracture.
Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Steve Meister said the judge's decision confirms his argument that "not every death is a murder."
"We are not celebrating or dancing in the streets because we still know two people (were killed) and many more were injured," he said.
Meister said the facts "did not support" the murder charges, noting his client has no criminal record or history of bad driving, and no drugs or alcohol were involved.
"They wanted to throw him away like he's a piece of garbage," the attorney said.
Costa remains in jail on $600,000 bail. Meister said he plans at the next court appearance on Oct. 20 to ask for the bail to be lowered again – it had been $2 million before being lowered July 20.
The Poscas' car was struck near the Foothill (210) Freeway by the double-decker car-hauling rig, which had lost its brakes and careened down Angeles Crest Highway.
The truck pushed the car about 200 yards into the intersection of Foothill Boulevard, where four other vehicles were struck before the truck smashed into a coffee shop and bookstore.
After the crash, La Canada Flintridge officials lashed out at Caltrans, contending the state agency had failed to respond to their concerns about safety on the highway.
The city had appealed to the state for changes to the highway after a crash Sept. 5, 2008, in which a truck carrying 70,000 pounds of onions plowed through the same intersection into the parking lot of the Hill Street Cafe, demolishing seven vehicles but causing only one minor injury.
In response to the uproar over the April 1 crash, Caltrans instituted a 90-day ban on five-axle trucks along Angeles Crest Highway between the Angeles Forest Highway and the 210 Freeway. The ban was later made permanent.