The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office filed one count of murder Monday against a 20-year-old man accused of crashing Nov. 1 and killing his passenger while on probation for a previous DUI charge, according to a spokeswoman for county prosecutors.
Detectives with the Traffic Unit of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station suspect that Raul Ramirez, 20, of Canyon Country, who is currently on probation, was under the influence when he crashed around 3:40 a.m. Nov. 1 on Bouquet Canyon Road, near Sutters Pointe Plaza.
Orlando Gomez Sales, a 39-year-old man from Santa Clarita, was in the car with Ramirez when he crashed and died as the result of injuries he sustained in the crash.
Sgt. Mark Perkins of the station’s Traffic Unit said the murder charge was presented to the DA’s office because Ramirez had a previous conviction for DUI.
When a person is convicted of a first DUI offense, they receive a “Watson admonishment” from the DA’s office, a statement read in court postconviction by a prosecutor, according to CHP spokesman Josh Greengard.
The statement acknowledges the defendant is aware of how dangerous driving under the influence is, and that, as a result of this understanding, if the person chooses to drink and drive again and someone is killed in a future crash, the person is now eligible for a murder charge.
L.A. County Superior Court records available online did not have information regarding Ramirez’s previous conviction, which was mentioned by sheriff’s officials, indicating it likely occurred when he was a minor.
His plea and criminal complaint were not immediately available from the DA’s office.
He was expected to enter a plea Monday in San Fernando Superior Court.
Ramirez was transferred to the custody of Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles on Saturday, according to Sheriff’s Department arrest records available online.
He’s being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.