Woman acquitted on misdemeanor vehicle manslaughter charge

September 16, 2005
Santa Paula News

A Santa Paula woman that was charged with causing a fatal traffic accident last year was acquitted after a short trial in Ventura County Superior Court.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA Santa Paula woman that was charged with causing a fatal traffic accident last year was acquitted after a short trial in Ventura County Superior Court. A jury acquitted Maria Moreno, 24, on charges of misdemeanor vehicle manslaughter on Friday, September 9, the fourth day of the trial.Moreno was being tried for causing the October 18, 2004 accident that killed Robert Richard Romero, 62 of Ventura. The accident occurred on Highway 126 during a rainstorm; although Moreno was traveling at the 60 mph speed limit, charges were filed because prosecutors said she should have adjusted her speed due to the storm.Moreno was driving eastbound on Highway 126 at Camulos Street near Piru when she lost control of her pickup truck, which crossed over the center median and slammed into Romero’s oncoming station wagon. Moreno’s attorney, Senior Deputy Public Defender Donna Forry, told jurors that Moreno was on her way to beauty school when she saw two large trucks approaching her pickup truck from behind. Moreno slowed to let the trucks go by quickly, but as they passed they splashed a torrent of water onto her windshield. Moreno instinctively slammed on her brakes and lost control of her vehicle. Moreno’s pickup slid and then spun into westbound traffic, hitting the station wagon driven by Romero, who was alone in his vehicle.
Romero died about two hours after the crash that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. Three Fillmore residents who were riding in a van behind Romero received minor injuries in the collision. Moreno received moderate injuries.Deputy District Attorney Jeff Gorell told the jurors that Moreno should have taken the weather conditions into consideration and, by law, traveled at a much lower rate of speed.Forry told jurors that Moreno had considered the rainy weather when she left her home earlier than usual, and although she caused the accident, there is no evidence that she violated any traffic laws. Moreno could have faced up to a year in jail if she had been convicted on the charges.Just a week before the October 18, 2004 accident that killed Romero, another Highway 126 crash near Timber Canyon Road killed two Fillmore residents and critically injured two.



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