EL CAJON (CNS) - A motorist accused of driving drunk and veering off a freeway near Lakeside, killing two 20-year-old passengers, must stand trial on murder, vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Mario Alberto Carranza -- who has a prior DUI conviction from 2007 -- faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of causing the April 19 crash that killed Monica Lupercio and Carlos Vargas.
The 26-year-old defendant was allegedly driving drunk on westbound Interstate 8 near Lake Jennings Road when his 1997 Nissan Sentra drifted into the center divider around 7:30 a.m. last April 19. He overcorrected, sending the car through a chain-linked fence, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The vehicle eventually landed in a concrete culvert, killing Lupercio and Vargas.
Carranza, who was seriously injured but survived, was tested at the hospital after the crash and found to have a blood-alcohol level that was nearly four times above the legal limit, said Deputy District Attorney Douglas Rose.
El Cajon Judge John Thompson found that enough evidence was presented at Carranza's preliminary hearing to order him to proceed to trial. A Superior Court arraignment was set for Jan. 5.
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