Irvine man accused of murder in crash that killed cheerleader
A convicted drunk driver pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday in the death of an Irvine cheerleader killed over Memorial Day weekend as she rode home from a party with friends.
Dressed in a jail-issued jumpsuit, Austin Jeffrey Farley, 26, of Irvine stood with two defense attorneys as a judge read the charges accusing him of murder, driving under the influence of alcohol and causing injury.
Farley is accusing of slamming his pickup truck into a Mercedes-Benz early Sunday, killing Ashton Sweet, 14, a freshman at Northwood High School.
She and three other girls were returning from a friend’s party, driven by one of their fathers, Michael Ghaemi. The three girls were injured.
Farley is believed to have been making an illegal left turn on a red light and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.20% — 2 1/2 times the legal limit, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Court records show that Farley has a history of driving-related convictions. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and battery on a police officer or emergency worker, according to the Orange County courts online database.
In 2005, he pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended or revoked license and refusing to submit to a chemical test for driving under the influence.
Farley, who is being held on $1-million bail, faces a potential sentence of 20 years to life in prison if convicted on all counts.
Ashton was determined to be brain-dead at 5 a.m. Sunday after suffering traumatic brain injury, brain swelling, a skull fracture, collapsed lung, and facial, rib and spinal fractures in the crash, which occurred about 1 a.m. near Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard. She was kept on life support until her organs could be donated.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.