In the state of California, if someone consumes alcohol, gets behind the wheel and gets into an accident and another person is killed, there are always serious penalties involved. On Wednesday, June 19th, prosecutors filed murder charges against a Santa Maria man for his role in a DUI crash that left two women dead back in March.
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The Santa Maria Times reports that Javier Artemio Cortes, 27, has been charged with murder for an accident which happened on March 16th near Donovan Road and Miller Street at approximately 3:00 a.m. A spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office said in a statement that Cortes is charged with two counts of murder in addition to one count of driving over the limit of 0.08% blood alcohol levels.
Prosecutors allege that Cortes drove his vehicle at an excessive speed while having a BAC level 0.17% – more than twice the legal limit before hitting another vehicle with four people inside.
Among those inside the car that Cortes hit with his black sedan were Monica Elizabeth Coleman, 17 and Monica Gonzalez, 20. Both were killed in the crash. The accident also left a third person with critical injuries. Cortes pleaded not guilty of any of the charges against him.
After a hearing, Judge Patricia Kelley increased the amount of Cortes bail to $2 million. Before then, Cortes had been out on bond since late March. He was remanded to Santa Barbara County Jail after the bail increase.
Scheduling for a preliminary hearing was set for June 20th.