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LOCAL : Anaheim Man Gets 45 Years to Life for Deaths of 3 in Police Helicopter

<i> From Times staff reports</i>

An Anaheim man who led police on a high-speed chase that resulted in the crash of two police helicopters and three deaths was sentenced to the maximum 45 years to life in prison today.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald told the defendant, 22-year-old Vincent Acosta, “You’ve been an accident waiting to happen since you were 14 years old.”

Acosta was convicted in May of three counts of second-degree murder for the March 10, 1987, deaths of two Costa Mesa police officers and a civilian who was in their helicopter. Their helicopter crashed into the back of a Newport Beach Police Department helicopter when both were part of the ground and air chase of Acosta.

Acosta, who was driving a stolen car, led police through five cities in central Orange County before he pulled off the Riverside Freeway near his home.

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His lawyers, who argued that negligence by one of the pilots was responsible for the crash, asked Fitzgerald to run the terms of 15 years to life concurrently.

“Mr. Acosta had no control over how many people would be in those helicopters,” Deputy Public Defender William Kelley argued.

But Fitzgerald disagreed. The judge said he was imposing the maximum possible sentence as a possible deterrent to others.


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