A University of California at Berkeley graduate student has pleaded no contest to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for a car crash a year ago that killed his girlfriend, who had just graduated from the university, and her 6-year-old son. Jose Lumbreras, 25, entered his plea in Alameda County Superior Court on Monday and could face up to 12 years in state prison when he is sentenced by Judge Thomas Reardon on June 11, prosecutor Luis Marin said today.
Lumbreras crashed a Cadillac into a roundabout and a tree near Allston Way and California Street in Berkeley at about 1:10 a.m. on May 18, 2012, fatally wounding 22-year-old Milanca Alicia Lopez and her son Xavier Chevez. Lopez, who was from the Los Angeles area and had graduated with a degree in social welfare the previous week, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Xavier initially survived but became comatose, then suffered paralysis and died a week after the accident. Marin called the accident “horrific” and said evidence in the case indicates that Lumbreras was traveling at 65 mph and had run a stop sign, and that his blood-alcohol content was at least twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
The prosecutor said that two and a half hours after the accident, Lumbreras’ blood-alcohol content was 0.16 percent. Marin said Lumbreras pleaded to the exact charges that were filed against him and that he didn’t offer Lumbreras a plea bargain because the 12-year maximum prison term he faces is “low” considering the fact that he killed two people. He said he will argue that Lumbreras should receive “no less than the maximum” but that it will be up to Judge Riordan to decide on his sentence.
Lumbreras’ attorney, Paul Delano Wolf, couldn’t be reached for comment today on the case or on the length of the prison term he will seek for Lumbreras, who is in custody in county jail in lieu of $200,000 bail. Lumbreras, who was a graduate student in ethnic studies, also suffered serious injuries in the accident and spent three weeks in a hospital, Marin said.
Lopez’s family members, who had traveled to Oakland from Los Angeles, cried in a courthouse hallway after Lumbreras entered his no-contest plea. Marin said the plea hearing was emotional for them, especially because it was the day after Mother’s Day, and this Saturday will be the one-year anniversary of the fatal crash. “It was a tragic loss for the family because they lost their daughter and their grandchild,” Marin said.
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