Runaway truck driver heads toward trial

The big-rig driver facing murder charges for the April 2009 runaway truck crash that killed two people in La Cañada Flintridge is out on $340,000 bail after nearly two years in jail.

Marcos Costa had been in custody at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles following a June 2009 grand jury murder indictment until he posted bail last month, said Edward Murphy, who has been representing Costa since he changed his mind earlier this year about defending himself at trial.

L.A. County Sheriff’s Department records show Costa leaving custody on Feb. 12.

Instead of what had been handcuffs and yellow inmate jumpsuit, Costa appeared Thursday in a Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom in Pasadena wearing a jacket and tie. Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis called for Costa’s trial to start within 10 days of an April 19 hearing.

Palmdale resident Angel Posca and his 12-year-old daughter, Angelina, died on April 1, 2009, when Costa’s truck collided with cars at the intersection of Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge after the truck lost its brakes while descending the highway.

In addition to two counts of murder, Costa, 45, is charged with vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving.

Costa, who has also worked as a pastor, is staying with parishioners of the Assembly of God Church in Orange County. At the urging of county prosecutor Carolina Lugo, Mavis ordered Costa — a native of Brazil who had lived in Massachusetts — not to leave Los Angeles or Orange counties.

Lugo told Mavis she expects the trial to take up to four weeks.

Outside the courtroom, Murphy said he plans to call on witnesses at trial to not only weigh in on details of the crash, but to testify to Costa’s character.

“He’s a person. He’s not a criminal, and so we’ll be calling character witnesses — a lot of them,” Murphy said.

As Costa had tried to do in his own defense, Murphy said he also plans to argue that the California Department of Transportation and other state agencies share blame for the crash because of the steep and dangerous nature of the Angeles Crest and Angeles Forest highways, although a judge likely will decide whether that argument will be admissible in court.

Costa, who had been actively courting media attention on his own behalf, referred all questions on Thursday to Murphy.

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