Aunt of fatal Merced County hit-and-run crash victim discusses how the family is coping
A Los Banos man was willing to plead guilty Wednesday to several charges, including manslaughter, reckless driving and firearms offenses related to the March 10 hit-and-run death of a 19-year-old woman, his attorney said.
But that was after Merced County Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby filed a notice of intent to charge 21-year-old Ivan Andrade with second-degree murder, after a California Highway Patrol report revealed additional details in the Los Banos crash.
The murder charge means instead of serving a maximum 11 years in prison, Andrade could be imprisoned 15-years to life.
The CHP report showed that electronic data from the 2017 Dodge Charger he was driving clocked him going 150 mph, 1.1 seconds before the collision that killed 19-year-old Marlyne Vidales and severely injured four others, according to the prosecutor’s notice of intent.
The report also shows the vehicle was traveling at 132 mph a tenth of a second before the crash, the notice states.
Andrade’s attorney, Stockton-based Mary Bird, asked Merced County Judge David Moranda on Wednesday to reject the addition of the murder charge because it wasn’t filed the required week ahead of the scheduled hearing.
Bird said she wasn’t given proper notice to respond to the new charge.
Bird argued the new evidence didn’t significantly change the facts of the case, noting investigation reports already state Andrade may have been driving at 140 mph during the time of the crash.
Bird also said Andrade was willing to accept responsibility. “(Andrade) is willing to plead guilty right now to all (existing) charges,” Bird said.
Colby pushed back, telling Moranda he found out about the new CHP report Tuesday. He said the report presented evidence conclusive enough to add a murder charge.
Colby also said the court shouldn’t allow Andrade the opportunity to plead to the lesser charges. “It would be a miscarriage of justice to the victims’ family,” Colby said.
Moranda continued the hearing to Aug. 7 to allow time for the defense to respond.
Several members of Vidales’ family were present during the hearing.
“We want justice,” said Yasmin Ledezma, Vidales’ aunt, who saw Andrade’s expressionless face as his case was called.
“It’s just a constant reminder that she’s not here,” Ledezma said. “And it’s a constant reminder that we need to keep on fighting.”
Ledezma’s sister also was severely injured in the collision, appearing in court in a wheelchair.
Bird couldn’t be reached after the hearing.
The 2017 Dodge Charger Andrade was reportedly driving crashed into a white 2017 Nissan Pathfinder near the intersection of Pacheco Boulevard and 10th Street in the early hours of March 10, according to investigation reports.
The collision tore the Nissan into pieces, killing Vidales and severely injuring 20-year-old Alexis Ledezma, passenger Mario Pavia and driver Javier Martinez, who were in the Nissan.
Rodrigo Gonzalez, a passenger in the Charger, also suffered major injuries and was trapped in the vehicle with a semi-automatic rifle on his lap, according to reports. He was extricated at gunpoint and was taken to a hospital.
Andrade reportedly left the scene after the collision. A passenger of the Charger, Elvis Lainez, also left the scene before authorities arrived.
Investigators found a black revolver on the driver side-floorboard of the Charger, reports state. Andrade was found at his Los Banos home later in the day and investigators noticed he had “road rash,” according to the reports.
He was in custody Wednesday at the John Latorraca Correctional Center on a $850,000 bond, jail records state.
Andrade has a lengthy history of traffic offenses, including reckless driving and traffic infractions, according to court records.