Jurors in Pasadena, CA, convicted trucker driver Marcos Costa of vehicular manslaughter after failing to reach a verdict on second-degree murder charges brought against him as a result of a runaway truck accident. Costa lost the brakes on his rig on a windy, mountainous road and careened through an intersection in La Canada-Flintridge, killing two people in April 2009.
The jury in the case told the judge on Thursday they were unable to reach a verdict on the murder charges after deliberating for a week, according to KTLA News. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis sent the jury back to deliberate on lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter. The jury came back with a guilty verdict on those charges Friday. Costa also was convicted of three counts of reckless driving causing an injury.
The 46-year old trucker was hauling cars over the San Gabriel Mountains when his brakes failed on the steep Angeles Crest Highway. The rig crashed into a car, killing Palmdale resident Angel Posca and his daughter Angelina. The truck then hit four other vehicles, finally crashing into a storefront, leaving 12 others injured.
Costa and his co-driver Jose Soares testified in the trial that they drove onto Angeles Forest Highway following the GPS-suggested route that took them through the Angeles National Forest, but it did not point out they would traverse winding, mountainous roads, both men said.
After the accident, La Canada Flintridge officials accused the California Dept. of Transportation of failing to respond to safety concerns about trucks on the road and previous accidents at that intersection. Caltrans eventually instituted a permanent ban on five-axle trucks along Angeles Crest Highway between the Angeles Forest Highway and the 210 Freeway.
Prosecutors claimed Costa ignored posted weight warnings and “no trucks” signs on the highway. Costa, a Massachusetts resident and native of Brazil, filed a civil lawsuit in March 2011 accusing both Los Angeles County and the state of California of improperly maintaining the Angeles Crest Highway.
Edward Murphy, Costa's attorney, told the Los Angeles Times that since Costa has already served 20 months in jail while awaiting trial, he could emerge from the Sept. 8 sentencing hearing without having to serve additional time. The maximum sentence he could receive is nine years in prison.