Fresno DUI murder defendant is blaming victim

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Angelito Romero, who already had three DUI's, is now on trial for murder, accused of killing a woman while he was driving drunk again. (KFSN)

A Fresno County man who already had three DUIs is now on trial for murder, accused of killing a woman while he was driving drunk again.

Jennifer Starr loved the San Francisco Giants and her family. But beginning in June 2013, her kids would have to learn to live without their mother's love. She died almost instantly when her boyfriend, Angelito Romero, veered off Highway 99 near McKinley and hit a tree.

Romero survived the crash and was alert enough to answer questions from a firefighter who wondered if he'd been drinking.

"He said yes, approximately six beers," said Chris Townsend of the Fresno Fire Department.

Investigators say Romero told them he didn't know how the crash happened, but prosecutors say he'd had several beers and at least one shot of liquor that night. His blood alcohol content measured at .15, almost twice the legal limit for drivers. And Romero already had three convictions for drinking and driving -- in 1990, 1996 and 2008.

Those priors mean he's facing a murder charge for Starr's death. But his attorney says Romero will testify at trial and what he says may come as a surprise.

"He's going to tell you what happened in the cab of that vehicle prior to the accident and about the fight he and Ms. Starr had and the fact that Ms. Starr and he struggled over the wheel of that can before it just veered completely off to the right and hit the tree," said defense attorney Eric Green.

The testimony could come as a surprise because Romero never mentioned any struggle to paramedics, firefighters or CHP officers at the scene of the crash.
Prosecutors say Starr's daughter saw her mom ride with a drunken Romero twice before. One of those times, her mom tried not to get in the van.

"She's walking alongside of the road, defendant's driving the vehicle, he strikes Jennifer with the vehicle," said prosecutor William Lacy. "He hits her hard enough that she goes up on the hood."

Romero is facing life in prison for unless his testimony convinces the jury he's not guilty of murdering Starr on his fourth DUI.

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