Ex-Fresno coach should stand trial in DUI death, judge rules

February 27, 2013 12:51:56 AM PST
A former Central High School basketball coach is being held to the fire for a drunk driving crash that killed a 7-year-old boy.

A judge ruled Tuesday -- there's enough evidence for a trial against 43-year-old Loren LeBeau.

LeBeau has told Action News he wants to take responsibility for his actions, serve his punishment, and move on as an example of how you can ruin your life by making one horrible decision. But for now, the case is moving forward and the evidence against him is becoming clearer.

A subtle nod was the only reaction from a stoic Loren LeBeau as a judge ruled against him in his deadly drunk driving case. And the most important evidence in the case came from the former coach himself when he drove his car back to the scene where he killed 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado.

The impact of the crash sent Donovan's dad flying into LeBeau's car, leaving dents on the hood and a smashed windshield.

"The defendant knew what happened," said prosecutor Dennis Verzoso. "The damage on his windshield wasn't like the typical spider crack."

But prosecutors say the obvious crash didn't stop LeBeau. And as he drove away, he took Donovan with him.

Police investigator Brian Hance says he saw marks on the road, but they weren't from brakes.

"It's my opinion that the helmet worn by Donovan Maldonado was in contact with the left front tire, if not stuck or impinged within the wheel well," Hance said. "The top of the helmet sustained burning and melting."

Hance says there's evidence LeBeau tried to shake whatever was slowing his car before he turned onto Perrin -- about 800 feet after the crash -- and Donovan came loose. But LeBeau's attorney says his client started to worry about the physical damage he'd done very quickly. And now, he's hoping to minimize the emotional damage.

"He shouldn't have left, but he came back to the scene and you can see he was very remorseful," said defense attorney Jeff Hammerschmidt. "And they're going through a lot -- the Maldonados are -- and they'll continue to go through a lot, so if there's a way to handle this case that makes it easier on them, we would like to do it in that way."

LeBeau could face as long as 24 years in prison if the case goes to trial. He's due back in court next month.


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