VISTA (CNS) - A man who drove drunk and slammed into an SUV on Interstate 5 near Oceanside, killing a 27-year-old man asleep in the back of the sport utility vehicle, was sentenced Wednesday to 16 years to life in state prison.
William Vincent Romero, 44, was convicted in September of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, DUI causing injury and hit-and-run causing death in the April 4, 2010 crash that killed Oscar Lopez.
Before sentencing Wednesday, Vista Judge K. Michael Kirkman denied a defense motion for a new trial and a motion to reduce the murder conviction to manslaughter.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Romero was driving his 1993 Chevrolet Camaro on I-5 south of Basilone Road just after midnight when the car drifted into another lane and crashed into a 2004 Ford Explorer.
Lopez, who was in the back of the SUV getting some sleep before his 2 a.m. shift at a fish company, was thrown from the vehicle and killed.
His 5-year-old son, Oscar Jr., was also thrown from the SUV but escaped serious injury, investigators said.
Romero ran from the crash scene but was arrested a short time later near San Onofre State Beach, according to the CHP. The defendant's blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.10 percent two hours after the crash, but experts testified that Romero's blood-alcohol content was 0.13 or 0.14 percent at the time of the crash, said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco.
The prosecutor also said Romero was convicted of child abuse in 2004 and went to prison. The defendant also has felony convictions for bribing an executive officer and presenting false evidence, according to Greco.
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