BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
He'd knocked back five or six beers, Alfredo Moreno told police, but thought the trip home to Arvin from a friend's house in Lamont would "be easy," according to court filings that became available Tuesday.
Events that evening of Jan. 19 proved him wrong.
Police reports say Moreno told investigators he must have gone the wrong way upon leaving his friend's home because he had no idea what direction he was heading, which road he was on or how fast he was traveling when he crashed into the back of a car in southeast Bakersfield that evening.
Six-month-old LayJah Heath, a passenger in the car, died three days later from blunt force trauma suffered in the crash. The reports say LayJah suffered bleeding on the brain and a fracture in the lower right portion of her skull.
She'd been wearing a navy blue and white polka dot "onesie" trimmed in pink.
Moreno, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges including second-degree murder and hit-and-run causing death or permanent serious injury. He's being held on $240,000 bail.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 3.
The reports say Moreno's 2007 Cadillac Escalade was traveling 58 mph a half second before slamming into the back of the 1999 Mercury Grand Marquis carrying LayJah. He had slowed from a speed of 71 mph 2.5 seconds before the crash.
The Grand Marquis had been stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of South Union Avenue and Berkshire Road.
A witness said Moreno got out of his vehicle and appeared to check himself for injury but did not contact the occupants of the car, according to the reports. He then got back in his SUV and continued driving north on Union.
Police found him about 2.3 miles away in the 100 block of East White Lane. Police said Moreno's eyes were bloodshot and watery, he slurred his speech and there was an odor of alcohol coming from him.
He agreed to breath alcohol tests that registered readings of .20 percent and .18 percent blood alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit of .08, the reports say.
Moreno told police he'd been driving when "a vehicle suddenly appeared" in front of him, the reports say. He said he left the scene because he'd been drinking and is on probation for a prior DUI.
In fact, Moreno has two DUI convictions, one from 2012 and another in 2004.
Upon being told of Layjah's death in a followup interview, Moreno told investigators he deserved to go to jail. He said he was wrong to get behind the wheel.
"When you're drunk, you're somebody else," the reports say he told investigators.