The truck driver accused of murder in the 2009 crash that killed two people in La Cañada Flintridge accused prosecutors on Tuesday of withholding evidence and hampering his defense.
Marcos Costa, 45, read aloud his allegations during a Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing in Pasadena from a rambling two-page letter that prompted the judge to again point out weaknesses in his understanding of legal process.
It was the third time that Costa — who parted ways with his defense attorney last year after turning down a plea deal that would have dropped the murder charges in exchange for vehicular manslaughter convictions — was scolded in court for not grasping legal protocols in his own defense.
County Deputy Dist. Atty. Carolina Lugo refuted Costa’s allegations, saying the documents Costa requested were already in his possession.
“The court appreciates the difficulties you’re having, but the reality is that when you decide to represent yourself, you have to undertake what an attorney would do in your situation. There are a number of reasons why you’re at a big disadvantage representing yourself,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis said.
The judge confirmed again with Costa on Tuesday that he had a right to a court-appointed attorney. Costa relies on the help of a Spanish-language interpreter and has remained behind bars in L.A. County Jail since June 2009.
Mavis ordered Costa to meet with his private investigator and county prosecutors to settle the records dispute in time for a Feb. 4 status hearing, which would trigger a 60-day deadline for going to trial. During that two-month period, Costa could still try to get the murder indictments against him dropped.
Costa has argued that government officials share blame for the crash for failing to maintain clear signage and runaway-truck ramps along Angeles Crest Highway, and that he is the victim of selective prosecution in a bid to shirk liability.
Palmdale resident Angel Posca and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina died on April 1, 2009, after Costa’s truck plowed through the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and Angeles Crest Highway while descending the steep mountain pass.
Yanette Posca, who lost her husband and daughter in the collision, has filed wrongful-death lawsuits against state, county and city agencies.
Posca and several family members attended the hearing.
Also in court was Costa’s wife, Ester Costa, a Massachusetts resident who said her husband took up professional driving to support them after being laid off from working at his church. Both are natives of Brazil.
“I’m very sad. This is a bad dream,” Ester Costa said. “My husband is a good person. He never [drove his truck] to California to kill anybody. It was an accident.”