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Livermore man convicted of 2nd-degree murder for drunk-driving deaths

Defense counsel argues verdict 'has no integrity' due to juror misconduct

A 38-year-old Livermore man was convicted this week of two counts of second-degree murder for killing a mother and her toddler in a drunk-driving crash in Livermore in 2015.

Alameda County Superior Court jurors deliberated for two days before announcing their verdict late Monday afternoon against Brian Jones for the deaths of 46-year-old Esperanza Morales-Rodriguez of Seaside and her 14-month-old daughter, Ulidia Perez-Morales, on May 2, 2015.

However, Jones' defense attorney criticized the verdict Tuesday and alleged the case was tainted by juror misconduct. "The verdict in this case has no integrity," attorney Ernie Castillo said.

Prosecutors and police said Jones lost control of his car while driving under the influence of alcohol and crashed into an apartment complex in the 900 block of Murrieta Boulevard just before 6:50 p.m. that day.

Police said debris from the crash also struck two boys ages 6 and 7, who were taken to a hospital for treatment. In addition to the two murder counts, Jones was convicted of felony driving while intoxicated for injuring the 7-year-old boy.

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Jones faces a lengthy state prison term of up to 30 years to life or more when he's sentenced by Alameda Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi on Feb. 23.

Livermore police said Jones had attended the Livermore Wine Country Festival before the crash.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said when she filed charges against Jones that his blood-alcohol content was 0.14%, well above the legal limit for drinking and driving.

O'Malley said Jones was under the influence of alcohol as he drove his car at speeds ranging from 75 mph to 99 mph through residential streets in Livermore.

Rosa Morales, Morales-Rodriguez's cousin, testified at that hearing that the crash occurred while she was hosting a party to celebrate her daughter's 19th birthday and that Morales-Rodriguez and her daughter had been among her guests.

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In criticizing the guilty verdicts, Castillo said Delucchi ruled before Jones' trial began that the prosecution couldn't tell jurors that Jones has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated in Sacramento County in 2003 because that information would be prejudicial.

But Castillo said that when a female juror told other jurors that she would vote to convict Jones of gross vehicular manslaughter instead of second-degree murder, another female juror, in an attempt to get her to change her mind, told her in front of the entire panel about Jones' prior conviction.

Castillo said Delucchi dismissed the juror who disclosed Jones' prior conviction but he also dismissed the juror who had reported that juror's comments.

The defense attorney said the juror who reported the improper comments "deliberated and participated in the legal process but was removed simply because she was the focus of the offending juror's misconduct."

Castillo alleged that Delucchi's decision to remove the holdout juror "was a certain windfall against Mr. Jones and an implied direction from the court to convict him of murder."

"We will make every effort to get this verdict thrown out," Castillo said. "Brian Jones is not a murderer and he deserves a new trial."

Prosecutor Kevin Ikuma asked jurors in his closing argument last week to convict Jones of two counts of second-degree murder and the felony DUI count.

But Castillo, who admitted that what Jones did was irresponsible, said his client should only be convicted of the lesser charge of gross vehicular manslaughter because he believes Jones didn't intend to kill anyone.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office declined to comment on Castillo's allegation that Jones didn't get a fair trial.

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Livermore man convicted of 2nd-degree murder for drunk-driving deaths

Defense counsel argues verdict 'has no integrity' due to juror misconduct

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 1:07 pm
Updated: Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 3:35 pm

A 38-year-old Livermore man was convicted this week of two counts of second-degree murder for killing a mother and her toddler in a drunk-driving crash in Livermore in 2015.

Alameda County Superior Court jurors deliberated for two days before announcing their verdict late Monday afternoon against Brian Jones for the deaths of 46-year-old Esperanza Morales-Rodriguez of Seaside and her 14-month-old daughter, Ulidia Perez-Morales, on May 2, 2015.

However, Jones' defense attorney criticized the verdict Tuesday and alleged the case was tainted by juror misconduct. "The verdict in this case has no integrity," attorney Ernie Castillo said.

Prosecutors and police said Jones lost control of his car while driving under the influence of alcohol and crashed into an apartment complex in the 900 block of Murrieta Boulevard just before 6:50 p.m. that day.

Police said debris from the crash also struck two boys ages 6 and 7, who were taken to a hospital for treatment. In addition to the two murder counts, Jones was convicted of felony driving while intoxicated for injuring the 7-year-old boy.

Jones faces a lengthy state prison term of up to 30 years to life or more when he's sentenced by Alameda Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi on Feb. 23.

Livermore police said Jones had attended the Livermore Wine Country Festival before the crash.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said when she filed charges against Jones that his blood-alcohol content was 0.14%, well above the legal limit for drinking and driving.

O'Malley said Jones was under the influence of alcohol as he drove his car at speeds ranging from 75 mph to 99 mph through residential streets in Livermore.

Rosa Morales, Morales-Rodriguez's cousin, testified at that hearing that the crash occurred while she was hosting a party to celebrate her daughter's 19th birthday and that Morales-Rodriguez and her daughter had been among her guests.

In criticizing the guilty verdicts, Castillo said Delucchi ruled before Jones' trial began that the prosecution couldn't tell jurors that Jones has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated in Sacramento County in 2003 because that information would be prejudicial.

But Castillo said that when a female juror told other jurors that she would vote to convict Jones of gross vehicular manslaughter instead of second-degree murder, another female juror, in an attempt to get her to change her mind, told her in front of the entire panel about Jones' prior conviction.

Castillo said Delucchi dismissed the juror who disclosed Jones' prior conviction but he also dismissed the juror who had reported that juror's comments.

The defense attorney said the juror who reported the improper comments "deliberated and participated in the legal process but was removed simply because she was the focus of the offending juror's misconduct."

Castillo alleged that Delucchi's decision to remove the holdout juror "was a certain windfall against Mr. Jones and an implied direction from the court to convict him of murder."

"We will make every effort to get this verdict thrown out," Castillo said. "Brian Jones is not a murderer and he deserves a new trial."

Prosecutor Kevin Ikuma asked jurors in his closing argument last week to convict Jones of two counts of second-degree murder and the felony DUI count.

But Castillo, who admitted that what Jones did was irresponsible, said his client should only be convicted of the lesser charge of gross vehicular manslaughter because he believes Jones didn't intend to kill anyone.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office declined to comment on Castillo's allegation that Jones didn't get a fair trial.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

Michael Austin
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm
Michael Austin, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm

He drove drunk.
He killed two people.
His conviction takes a potential drunk driver serial killer
off the streets and highways, puts him in jail where he cannot
be drunk and drive to kill again!


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 14, 2017 at 7:31 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 14, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Good thing he's not a lawyer or married to a chp officer


Sam
Oak Hill
on Nov 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm
Sam, Oak Hill
on Nov 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm

"O'Malley said Jones was under the influence of alcohol as he drove his car at speeds ranging from 75 mph to 99 mph through residential streets in Livermore."

Wow. This guy makes Cody Hall look like a responsible driver.


Guilty
Laguna Oaks
on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:44 am
Guilty, Laguna Oaks
on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:44 am

With a 12-year old DUI under his belt, and after getting loaded by 6pm, he elected to drive his red corvette through a bedroom community at speeds of 75-99 mph with a blood alcohol of 0.14%. And his lawyer claims he didn’t form intent? Really? Put this loser away for a very long time.


Map
Del Prado
on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:57 am
Map , Del Prado
on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:57 am

The mean streets of the tri- valley have just been made a skosh safer, now they need to lock up that hit and run coward lawyer and that multiple offender officers wife and we will start to feel better and safer with this justice system looking out for law abiding citizens instead of the criminals


Vigy
Registered user
Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Nov 15, 2017 at 10:45 am
Vigy, Walnut Grove Elementary School
Registered user
on Nov 15, 2017 at 10:45 am

We can all hope and pray that they don't release him during the inevitable appeals.


Pleasanton Resident
Vintage Hills
on Nov 15, 2017 at 12:18 pm
Pleasanton Resident, Vintage Hills
on Nov 15, 2017 at 12:18 pm

I have been waiting to hear news on this trial for a long time! This whole incident was beyond tragic and never should’ve happened. I’m glad these jurors found him guilty and I hope you gets the maximum. We are all a lot safer knowing that he will be locked up and not driving on the streets!


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Guilty his corvette wasn't red


Disgusted
Downtown
on Nov 16, 2017 at 10:42 am
Disgusted, Downtown
on Nov 16, 2017 at 10:42 am

He killed two people and injured others and many lives will never be the same. He deserves the maximum punishment that the law allows for his crimes. How many other times did he drive drunk and was just not caught? It is time for people to realize in no uncertain terms, that this behavior WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. With the holidays coming up and people feeling the need to drink in order to have "fun", this is a good reminder that if you drink and drive and cause injuries and/or deaths, you WILL be punished to the fullest extent of the law. These murderers behind the wheel have to be stopped. They have been given slaps on the wrists for far too long.


Pleasanton Parent
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm
Pleasanton Parent , Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm

....unless you're married to a Sheriff or a lawyer with a cocaine habit and pregnant wife. Then it's ok.


mike
Del Prado
on Nov 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm
mike , Del Prado
on Nov 16, 2017 at 8:19 pm

this is an over reach by the DA this verdict is not right and i was there I'm a first responder and was at the scene. this guy was not served by his legal counsel not right








Disgusted
another community
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:56 am
Disgusted, another community
on Nov 17, 2017 at 9:56 am

"Mike" why do you say it is an "over reach". Did he drive drunk and kill two people or not? It really doesn't matter if he "meant to" as you seem to suggest. He broke the law by driving drunk AGAIN and two people died as a result. Do you think he should get probation and just move on to do it again? I'm surprised that as a first responder who sees these horrors first hand that you seem to be suggesting that he get off on a lesser charge. Why do you think that?


Vigy
Registered user
Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Nov 17, 2017 at 11:17 am
Vigy, Walnut Grove Elementary School
Registered user
on Nov 17, 2017 at 11:17 am

"Mike" I seem to recall that a jury found him guilty. Doesn't seem like DA overreach to me.


Sam
Oak Hill
on Nov 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm
Sam, Oak Hill
on Nov 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

I think that "mike" is just playing games with you guys.


Rider
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm
Rider, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 20, 2017 at 1:08 pm

According to findlaw.com, second-degree murder is ordinarily defined as: 1) an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned, nor committed in a reasonable "heat of passion"; or 2) a killing caused by dangerous conduct and the offender's obvious lack of concern for human life.

Speeding at 75 mph to 99 mph through a residential neighborhood alone is dangerous conduct that shows lack of concern for human life. In addition, he was drunk! There is absolutely no overreach on the part of the DA in charging this guy with 2nd degree murder.


Map
Del Prado
on Nov 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm
Map, Del Prado
on Nov 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Throw him in Manson’s cell he’s not going to need it anymore.


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