Retrial ordered for trucker accused of killing two women, four children, in 2016 crash

Law enforcement personnel examine a vehicle involved in a fiery crash on Interstate 5 that killed six people. Photo courtesy of Rick McClure
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A retrial was ordered Friday in the case of a career trucker accused of killing two women and four young children after his big rig hit a minivan two and a half years ago.

Richard Lopez, now 72, is charged with six counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

Last month, after a lengthy two-month trial in San Fernando, the case ended with a hung jury and mistrial was declared.

On Friday, the judge turned down a request by Lopez’ lawyer to have the case dismissed.

“Defense counsel asked for the case to be dismissed pursuant to Penal Code 1385, and the judge denied it,” Paul Eakins, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Friday.

California’s Penal Code 1385 allows a judge to dismiss a case in the furtherance of justice without a request for one being made by the defense attorney or defendant.

A pretrial hearing is now set for June 6, in the same courtroom where the original trial was heard, with the same judge, same prosecutor and same defense attorney.

“We’re going to have another trial,” defense attorney Ben Mironer said Friday.

“The judge decided not to dismiss, and the prosecutor stated they intend to proceed with a retrial,” he said.

The judge in this case is Sherilyn Garnett, presiding over Courtroom A at San Fernando Superior Court.  Deputy District Attorney Jamie Castro was the prosecutor.

In the first trial, jurors voted 8-4 not guilty.

When the hung jury was announced at the end of March, Mironer was asked how his client responded to

“He’s been through so much, it still hasn’t sunk in,” Mironer said at the time.

After seven weeks of testimony and evidence, jurors began deliberating March 18 and, by the end of day three, notified the judge that they could not reach a verdict.

“Jurors were deadlocked,” Mironer said at the time. “Eight jurors voted not guilty, four jurors voted guilty.”

Lopez is charged with six misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter for allegedly having struck a minivan with his Freightliner truck at 3:37 a.m. on June 28, 2016, in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, just south of Gorman School Road.

The two women who died inside the burning 2016 Toyota Sienna minivan were Connie Wu Li and Flora Kuang, both 33. The children killed in the same vehicle were Jayden Li, 5; Lucas Li, 3; Sky Ng, 4; and Venus Ng, 2.

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