Twice-convicted DUI driver pleads not guilty to killing 14-year-old girl in Newport Beach

Joseph Alcazar, 30, of Fontana is charged on suspicion of murder for a May 25 DUI collision that killed a 14-year-old girl.
Joseph Alcazar, 30, of Fontana is charged on suspicion of second-degree murder for a May 25 DUI collision in Newport Beach that killed a 14-year-old Rialto girl.
(Courtesy of the Orange County district attorney’s office)
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A man twice convicted of driving under the influence who was arrested following a DUI crash that killed a 14-year-old girl near the Balboa Fun Zone over Memorial Day weekend pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and drunk driving charges.

Joseph Alcazar, 30, was allegedly driving drunk the night of May 25 when he fatally struck Rosenda “Rose” Elizabeth Smiley, of Rialto, who’d been walking near the intersection of Balboa Boulevard and Palm Street shortly before 7 p.m., according to Newport Beach Police.

Alcazar’s 8-year-old daughter, along with an unnamed adult male passenger, were in the vehicle when it hit Smiley and reportedly ran over the foot of a 13-year-old girl she’d been with at the time.


Prosecutors with the Orange County district attorney’s office alleged in a criminal complaint Alcazar’s blood-alcohol level was .16 at the time of the crash — twice the legal limit.

The parents of Rosenda “Rose” Smiley gathered with friends and relatives Saturday night in Newport Beach to mourn her loss. She was struck and killed at the site of the vigil May 25 by an alleged DUI driver.

June 2, 2024

Previously convicted of driving under the influence in March 2016, Alcazar received another conviction for reckless driving in December 2020 in San Bernardino County, City News Service reported after his arrest. Due to those convictions, he faced a charge of second-degree murder.

“A 14-year-old girl living the California dream enjoying a day of sun and sand at the beach with friends to kick off the beginning of summer is dead because of the selfish decision of a stranger,” Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said in a May 29 statement.

“A repeat drunk driver not only took the life of a little girl, but he also endangered the life of his own daughter by getting behind the wheel after drinking and traumatized her and the other young girls who witnessed him hitting and killing a teenager.

Drivers convicted of DUI in California are required to be given a “Watson advisement,” informing them that they can be charged with murder if they kill someone while driving under the influence. It is not known whether Alcazar had ever officially received such notification.

Alcazar is being held in Orange County’s Theo Lacy facility and is due to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Aug. 23, court records indicate.