Murder Trial Opens for Driver in Deaths of 2
The murder trial opened Wednesday for a motorist charged in the February, 1987, deaths of two men along restaurant row in the Cardiff area of Encinitas. The defendant was allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
In his opening arguments in Vista Superior Court, Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Manning said Rudy Martinez, 21, of Oceanside displayed a “wanton disregard for human life” by engaging in a drag race with another motorist, only to lose control of his car as he passed the oceanfront string of popular eateries along Old Highway 101.
Martinez’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.14% after the accident, which killed Michael Wolf, 25, and Daniel McAllister, 19. In California, a blood-alcohol level of 0.10% is considered legally intoxicated. The two victims were walking to a restaurant to meet Wolf’s girlfriend after leaving a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous earlier.
Martinez’s defense attorney, John Jimenez, said he will argue that Martinez was so intoxicated that he was unable to judge that he was a risk to others, a requisite for conviction on second-degree murder.
Furthermore, Jimenez said, he will argue that his client was baited into the high-speed drag race by David Carroll, who was given immunity by the district attorney’s office in exchange for his testimony. Jimenez said Carroll served as a “slingshot” for Martinez as the two sped away from a signal light at Chesterfield Street, half a mile north of the restaurants.
Carroll said he reached 60 m.p.h. in his customized, restored 1955 Chevrolet; witnesses put Martinez’s speed at more than 80 m.p.h. when he lost control of his car, first skidding into the center line and then back to the curb, where he struck the two victims.
Martinez is charged with two counts each of second-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter as well as felony drunk driving. Conviction of second-degree murder could bring maximum sentences of 15 years to life.
Martinez was the focus of earlier court debates, in which Jimenez argued unsuccessfully that his client, as well as two other nonwhite defendants charged in Vista with second-degree murder and drunk driving, were the targets of selective prosecution because of prosecutors’ racial bias.