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Woman Says Driver Uttered Curse After Killelea Was Struck

Times Staff Writer

In an emotional voice, a neighbor testified Wednesday that immediately after a Newport Beach woman was hit by a speeding car last September, the driver looked at the dying woman, then at the neighbor, and uttered an obscene curse.

The neighbor testified in the second day of the murder trial of Danny David Ornelas, 19, of Huntington Park.

In an opening statement on Tuesday, Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas Goethals said he would show that Ornelas, although drunk at the time, deliberately steered a speeding car into Debbie Killelea as she stood in an alley behind her Balboa Peninsula home with two of her three children. And the prosecutor said the curse would be part of his proof.

Describes First Moments

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The neighbor, Gayle Orchard, described the first moments after the Sept. 1 incident in her testimony Wednesday to an Orange County Superior Court jury in Westminster. She said she opened her garage door facing the alley at the rear of East Ocean Boulevard after hearing the crash. Her voice then broke as she described seeing Killelea’s mangled body lying in the alley in front of her garage.

“I didn’t want to believe it was my friend Debbie,” Orchard said. “She was in rough shape. And there was a car overturned.” Orchard said she then saw a man, whom she identified as Ornelas, climbing out of the car.

“He was pulling himself out of the window on the driver’s side,” Orchard testified. “He looked at Debbie, and then he looked at me. And I didn’t know which one he was directing it to, but he said, ‘Goddamn ------- bitch.’ ”

Orchard said she then raced to the telephone to call 911.

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According to other testimony Wednesday, Ornelas ran after climbing from the car and resisted arrest when he was found near the beach a short time later.

Newport Beach Police Officer Glen Fisher told the jury that he arrived at the alley a few minutes after Killelea had been run over. He said the woman had suffered massive injuries but was still alive and conscious although unable to talk.

Wore Agonized Looks

About 10 friends and neighbors of Killelea who were in court wore agonized looks as Fisher gave a detailed account of the dying woman’s condition. “Her left leg appeared to be severed above the knee,” Fisher said. “Her right leg was twisted. Her arms were thrown back.” The left side . . . of her face was also severely injured, he added.

Fisher said as he was trying to provide emergency aid to Killelea before the paramedics arrived, he asked her to make a sign if she could understand him. He added that she did make a sign that she could understand.

“She rolled her eyes up and looked at me,” he said.

Minutes later, Killelea was rushed to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, but she died during emergency surgery.

Fisher testified that police learned the identity of the driver, Ornelas, from a passenger in the car--John Lozano, 18, of Huntington Park--who had gone to the beach with Ornelas that day.

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Fisher said he drove off to try to find Ornelas and spotted him a short time later near Channel Road and East Ocean Boulevard. Fisher said he yelled at Ornelas to stop, but the young man began running. Fisher said he caught Ornelas on the beach and that Ornelas still tried to pull away and had to be subdued with a wristlock.

In other testimony Wednesday, two eyewitnesses estimated that Ornelas was driving 50 m.p.h. up the alley just seconds before the car struck Killelea. A neighbor, Ray Farese, 29, said he saw the car going at that speed up the alley but did not see Killelea hit.

Another neighbor, Tim Jessup, 20, testified that he saw the car going about 50 m.p.h. and said the driver “swerved toward the lady” after Killelea put her hands on her hips in an apparent sign of disapproval at the car’s speed. Jessup used a clock analogy to describe how the car veered right toward where Killelea stood. He said the car was heading straight as if toward 12 o’clock and then veered right to a 2 o’clock heading.

Defense attorney Ralph Bencangey, in cross-examination, noted that Jessup had said during the October preliminary hearing that the car had moved from 12 o’clock to 1 o’clock. Jessup, after being shown a transcript of his October testimony, said: “It definitely was a swerve at an angle . . . maybe between 1 and 2 o’clock.”

Under questioning from Bencangey, Farese and Jessup both acknowledged that they are not experts at estimating speeds.

Bencangey, in his opening statement Tuesday, said that Ornelas was the driver of the car that fatally injured Killelea. But Bencangey said the defense will show that Ornelas should be tried for manslaughter and not murder.

The prosecutor said outside the courtroom that he is likely to show jurors today a videotape accidentally made by Lozano. The videotape shows Killelea trying to flee from the oncoming car, Goethals said.


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