Two men accused of committing crimes in the Santa Clarita Valley were sentenced in court this week.
A 74-year-old Walnut man, after two trials ended in hung juries, pleaded no contest Tuesday to one count of reckless driving in a case spurred by the deaths of six in a fiery Gorman crash.
Richard Lopez had been accused of six counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and one count of failure to comply with California Highway Patrol regulations as a commercial driver. However, after two trials with hung juries, his defense agreed to a plea deal that allowed him to accept the single charge of reckless driving and be sentenced to one year of probation.
The prosecution during the trials attempted to make the case that on the early morning hours of June 28, 2016, Lopez had been negligent when his commercial vehicle, a Freightliner semi-truck, collided with a minivan near Gorman School Road.
The collision sent the minivan off the freeway, and killed all six occupants, including two women and four children: Connie Wu Li, 33; Flora Kuang, 33; Jayden Li, 5; Lucas Li, 3; Sky Ng, 4; and Venus Ng, 2.
The defense had argued throughout the trial that the car carrying the six occupants, a minivan, had been sticking out into the lane in which Lopez was driving 42 mph southbound on Interstate 5, and that the vehicle’s hazard lights had not been on despite the vehicle being stopped on the right shoulder of the freeway.
Jamie Castro, the prosecutor in the case, had argued that Castro had worked a 14-hour day without taking a mandated 10-hour rest.
In February 2019, Lopez had been found guilty by a jury of misdemeanor failure to comply with CHP regulations as a commercial driver.
A man who pleaded no contest to committing child abuse and domestic violence after illegally entering a Saugus home last year was sentenced on Tuesday.
After pleading no contest to the two counts, Bijan Shaikh was sentenced to four years of formal probation, seven years suspended state prison sentence, one year of domestic violence classes, one year of parenting classes and three months of alcohol abuse treatment program.
The case against Shaikh stemmed from a Nov. 13 call Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies received of an argument inside a residence on the 28900 block of Shadow Valley Lane in Saugus.
“It was reported (Shaikh), who is the ex-boyfriend to the victim, was at the residence, violating a restraining order the victim had against the suspect,” said Natalie Arriaga, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, who added that Bijan then took both his ex-girlfriend and child and forced them into his car.
Investigators learned that, after fleeing the scene, Shaikh had driven them toward the San Fernando Valley, and, while doing so, he physically assaulted the victim.
The victim suffered minor injuries. However, she declined medical treatment.