Drunk Driver to Get 10-Year Prison Term in Deaths of 4

Times Staff Writer

A Newhall man whose car plowed head-on into another vehicle, leaving four people dead and two injured, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence, authorities said Monday.

Andres Flores, 25, is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 19.

A preliminary hearing had been scheduled Monday in Van Nuys Municipal Court to determine if there was sufficient evidence to hold Flores for trial. But Flores, after an agreement with prosecutors, pleaded guilty Friday to four counts of felony vehicular manslaughter and two counts of drunk driving in exchange for the lighter sentence, Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Pargament said.

If Flores had been convicted at a trial, he could have received 12 to 17 years in prison, prosecutors said.

"I don't think 10 years is wonderful," Pargament said. "I've got four people dead and two people injured. I would like to have 60 years. But I have to take a professional point of view. It was not a murder case. We never had any evidence to charge a higher degree of crime."

Earlier this month, insurance salesman James B. Masoner, 46, was sentenced to 15 years to life--the maximum under state law--for the drunk driving murder of one person.

He was charged with second-degree murder, however, in the death of 4-year-old Jessica Shaner, who was killed when Masoner's automobile crashed into her family's home. The charge against Masoner involved willful disregard for others' welfare, Pargament said.

Authorities do not know how Flores was driving immediately before the accident or what took place before he got into his car, Pargament said. Masoner was driven to his car by colleagues who felt that he was too intoxicated to drive. He then drove his car into the house and killed the girl, authorities said.

Flores had no prior convictions, although he had been arrested for drunk driving three weeks before the fatal accident, authorities said. That case is still pending. Masoner had been convicted in 1982 of drunk driving.

In the accident involving Flores, which occurred about 5 p.m. Aug. 23, Arthur Harrison, 37, and his wife, Elizabeth, 28, of Sylmar, were killed. Their two sons, Steven and Truson, who were 2 and 7 years old at the time, were critically injured.

Also killed in the crash were two passengers in Flores' vehicle, a relative, Jose Luis Flores, 20, and Guillermo Montoya, 36. Both men lived with Flores in Newhall.

Flores was driving west on San Fernando Road in Sylmar when his Chevrolet Impala crashed into the Harrisons' eastbound station wagon, authorities said.

Tests after the accident showed that Flores' blood-alcohol content was 0.20, twice the level at which a person is considered intoxicated in California, police said.

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