Yolo County prosecutors have added a count of second-degree murder to the case of a Woodland man accused of causing a fatal accident in Davis last month.
As a result, 39-year-old Armando Arias Gonzalez Jr. is now being held without bail at the Yolo County Jail, where he has been in custody since the Feb. 1 collision on East Covell Boulevard that killed Vacaville resident Darlene Morales, 85.
“The current evidence warranted the second-degree murder charge,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Raven said Friday. He declined to elaborate, but fellow prosecutor Amanda Zambor said in court last month that Gonzalez has a history of seizures that have resulted in other vehicle accidents in the past, yet continued to drive despite the risks.
Gonzalez’s attorney, Clemente Jimenez, said the newly added charge is “completely without merit.” He said Gonzalez takes medication to control his epilepsy and holds a valid driver’s license.
“I find the prosecution’s intent to condemn a man as a criminal because he suffers from epilepsy truly astounding,” Jimenez said via email. “I am thankful for our country’s jury system that exists as a check and balance against overzealous prosecution.”
Gonzalez also is charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
Davis police said Gonzalez was traveling westbound on Covell Boulevard at a high rate of speed that Saturday afternoon when he struck Morales’ vehicle, causing it to veer into a metal pole. His car then continued on toward Pole Line Road, where it struck a second vehicle and caused minor injuries to a woman and her daughter.
A preliminary hearing in the case, originally scheduled for Friday, was postponed until March 17 due to the unavailability of key witnesses in the case, Zambor said.
Relatives of Morales said she had been in Davis to visit her husband of more than 60 years, Rudy Morales, who had been admitted to a local skilled-nursing facility just three days earlier. Morales celebrated her 85th birthday the day before the fatal crash.
— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene