A man with two recent DUI convictions who admitted to smoking marijuana prior to a crash that killed two women last month in Salinas pled not guilty today to murder and other charges, a prosecutor said. Francisco Javier Miranda Jr., 23, entered his plea during an arraignment hearing with his public defender this morning in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, Chief Assistant District Attorney Terry Spitz said.
The district attorney’s office earlier today announced Miranda had been charged with multiple felony crimes in the Nov. 20 collision deaths of pedestrians Cynthia Lane and Linda Rascon Williams on East Laurel Drive west of Constitution Boulevard in Salinas, Spitz said.
The charges include two counts of murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of driving under the influence causing injury or death and hit and run resulting in injury or death, all felonies, Spitz said. The gross vehicular manslaughter counts and the driving under the influence causing injury or death count also include a special enhancement for Miranda’s two prior DUI convictions and the DUI causing injury charge was enhanced for causing injury or death to more than one person, Spitz said. He was also charged with driving with a suspended license, a misdemeanor, Spitz said.
If convicted of the charges, Miranda could be sentenced to 34 years in state prison on the felonies and six months more in county jail for the suspended license allegation, according to Spitz. No hearing date has been set for Miranda’s next appearance in court, according to the district attorney’s office.
On Nov. 20, Lane, 57, had been a patient in the emergency room at Natividad Medical Center at 1441 Constitution Blvd. when she left the hospital at about 7 p.m., Salinas police said. Williams, a hospital security guard, noticed Lane had forgotten her backpack and retrieved it to bring it to her, police said. Lane fell to the ground on East Laurel Drive while trying to get a ride from a passing motorist who sped away and Williams ran over to assist her when Miranda, the driver of a Ford Taurus, crashed into them at about 45 mph, according to police. The impact pushed Williams 45 feet away and Miranda then drove over her while driving away from the scene, police said.
Both victims died soon afterwards at Natividad Medical Center. Officers called Miranda’s mother, who convinced him to drive back to the collision scene where he was arrested. Police said that Miranda and his car smelled of marijuana and he admitted to officers to having smoked some. Officers later determined Miranda had been driving under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash, police said. Miranda had two prior DUI convictions in 2013 and the judge in each case warned him that if he continued to drive under the influence and killed someone, he could be charged with murder, according to police.
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