Driver who killed pregnant woman has previous DUI - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Driver who killed pregnant woman has previous DUI

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - There's new information in the death of a pregnant Lemon Grove woman killed by a suspected drunk driver.

A News 8 investigation has uncovered court records showing a previous drunk driving conviction against the driver.

Not even the district attorney's office knew about this earlier case, and it could result in more serious charges being filed.

Family members reacted with tears Friday to court documents showing the drunk driver accused of killing their loved one has a previous DUI.

"He killed my daughter, and this is the second time," mother Ronda Zambora said.

Elaina Luquis-Ortiz, 21, and her unborn son Romeo died in the Jan. 1 collision on Interstate 805. The driver, 40-year-old Joseph Vegegas, is accused of being three times over the legal limit with a .25 blood alcohol level.

"Obviously he had a problem. This much is true," Luquis-Ortiz's brother Richard Maldonado said.

No one seemed to know about the 1992 drunk driving conviction against Venegas, uncovered by News 8. At his arraignment Wednesday, public defender Bruce Kotler told the judge Venegas did not have a prior criminal record.

The 18-year-old conviction had been deleted from the county computer system. News 8 had to special order the records from county storage.

Venegas was 22 years old at the time, and the records show he pleaded guilty to driving with a .12 blood alcohol level.

Luquis-Ortiz's husband Frank is outraged.

"I just can't believe you discovered this and not our justice system," he said. "People are not doing their jobs how they should be."

The district attorney's office has charged Venegas with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, but now that could change. Before this old case came to light, prosecutors said the investigation was ongoing.

"Murder was considered in this case. He was arrested on murder. We will continue to evaluate the evidence. I am confident we have charged the appropriate charge. We will continue to evaluate the evidence as it comes in," deputy district attorney Corinne Miesfeld said.

The family is now hoping the DA will file new charges.

"He already knew he drove drunk before, and now he did it again and killed my wife and son. So he should be charged with murder now," Frank Luquis-Ortiz said.

The public defender's office represented Venegas in the 1992 case, as it does and this current case. News 8 contacted Venegas's attorney and his mother. Both claimed they had no knowledge of the 1992 conviction.

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