Jury deciding if chronic drunk driver committed murder

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A jury is now deciding whether a chronic drunk driver committed murder when he was drunk and behind the wheel during a fatal crash. (KFSN)

A jury is now deciding whether a chronic drunk driver committed murder when he was drunk again, and behind the wheel during a crash that killed his girlfriend. He claims she jerked the wheel, but prosecutors say he's a liar.

The crash on Highway 99 in June 2013 was not the first time police found Angelito Romero driving drunk. In 1990, 1996 and 2008, Romero was ticketed for DUI and that last time, he signed court documents saying he could be charged with murder if he did it again and someone died.

"He did it anyway," said prosecutor William Lacy. "He did not care. Drinking and driving was more important to Angelito Romero that night than was the life of Jennifer Starr or the life of anybody driving on the roads that night."

Jennifer Starr's life ended in the 2013 crash. The San Francisco Giants fan and mother had just sent a Facebook message to one of her kids saying she was on her way home. The kids never saw her alive again. But Romero says it was her own fault. He testified that they fought on the way home and she yanked the steering wheel, sending the van across three lanes and off the right shoulder where it hit a tree. And his attorney says one of Romero's physical attributes proves it.

"He's left-handed," said defense attorney Eric Green. "Do you think it'd make sense he's going to turn the wheel all the way to the right to go off the road?"

Romero says the fight means he wasn't in control of the van at the time of the crash, so he's not responsible for Starr's death. But Lacy says Romero is lying -- trying to save himself by kicking dirt on someone who's already buried. At the crash scene, Romero talked to a paramedic, a firefighter and a police officer who asked him what happened. He never mentioned Starr grabbing the steering wheel.

"That's not something that you're going to forget," Lacy said. "That's not a minor thing. He would have told the officer and he didn't."

Romero is facing life in prison if he's convicted.

He isn't saying he was sober that night, but he said he was "just fine" to drive, just like he was the other three times he was arrested for DUI.

Jennifer Starr's family, her kids, will never be "just fine" again.

Related Topics:
DUIdui crashdrunk driving deathdrunk drivingfresnomurdertrialFresno
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