Trial of DUI driver who allegedly killed Costa Mesa fire captain hinges on intent

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Stephen Taylor Scarpa hadn’t slept for 2 days and had a number of narcotics in his system on Nov. 3, 2018, when he drove house from a Westminster social gathering and struck Costa Mesa hearth Capt. Mike Kreza, a prosecutor instructed jurors Monday.

Orange County Senior Deputy District Atty. Daniel Feldman stated the Mission Viejo resident had been working at a drug dependancy and rehabilitation middle, the place a part of his job duties concerned administering medicines, however misplaced the job as a result of he “obtained loaded and couldn’t work.”

He’d been partying with a few of his former co-workers till shortly earlier than 8 a.m. that November morning, after having taken unprescribed “downers” lorazepam and benzodiazepines on the social gathering, Feldman stated. Scarpa had gotten in an altercation over a lady, was determined to go away and wished to get some sleep.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa faces a charge of second-degree murder in connection with death of Costa Mesa fire Capt. Mike Kreza.

Stephen Taylor Scarpa faces a cost of second-degree homicide in reference to loss of life of Costa Mesa hearth Capt. Mike Kreza.

(Courtesy of Orange County district legal professional’s workplace)

So, he obtained behind the wheel and hit the 405 Freeway, headed for house.

That journey, nonetheless, led to tragedy when only a brief distance from the residence he shared together with his grandparents, Scarpa reportedly lost control of the Ford Windstar van he’d been driving, traveled over a curb and sidewalk and up an embankment, hanging Kreza, off obligation on the time.

Kreza, 44, had been using his bike on a sidewalk close to the juncture of Alicia Parkway and Through Burgos on the time of the collision, coaching for a triathlon. He was anticipated at his daughter’s soccer sport however by no means confirmed up, spouse Shanna testified Monday in a Santa Ana courtroom the place Scarpa confronted one cost of second-degree homicide.

After hanging the van exhausting sufficient to shatter its windshield, the Rancho Santa Margarita father of three was thrown into the roadway the place he lay with a visual head damage and a shattered proper leg, in accordance with witnesses who tended to him that morning and on Monday gave testimony in courtroom.

Costa Mesa fire Capt. Mike Kreza, pictured with his family

Costa Mesa hearth Capt. Mike Kreza, pictured together with his household, died in November 2018 after being hit by a van whereas using his bicycle in Mission Viejo.

(Courtesy of Costa Mesa Fireplace & Rescue Division)

Feldman argued the defendant’s historical past of narcotics abuse, within the face of repeated warnings and a earlier DUI accident, constituted implied malice. In opening remarks, the prosecutor performed audio of Scarpa admitting to sheriff’s deputies he’d recognized what he’d executed was mistaken.

“Mr. Scarpa knew the medication, and mixing them with driving, [were] harmful to life. He was conscious on that day that he was, actually, intoxicated,” the prosecutor maintained. “Realizing what he felt like, he determined to drive anyway.”

Protection legal professional Rudolph Loewenstein, nonetheless, took one other view of the occasions of Nov. 3, 2018, and inspired jurors to maintain an open thoughts all through the next days and weeks as they contemplate proof and listen to testimony.

He as a substitute painted an image of a person who thought he was OK to drive and had almost made it house when sleep lastly overtook him. In a fraction of a second, the legal professional stated, an ideal storm of horrible occasions unfolded.

“He thought though he was drained he was going to have the ability to negotiate this route safely, and he did for twenty-four.7 miles,” Loewenstein stated, indicating his consumer didn’t pace or in any other case drive erratically. “What occurred occurred in a break up second of time. It’s a tragic accident — it’s not homicide.”

After the collision, Scarpa remained on scene and cooperated with sheriff’s deputies. In subsequent interviews, he expressed regret for his actions, Loewenstein instructed jurors. As horrible because the incident was, the defendant didn’t act with a aware disregard for human life.

“There are two sides to this case,” he continued. “You’re going to have to contemplate whether or not Mr. Scarpa deliberately dedicated the act that prompted the loss of life of one other individual, that when he acted, he had this malice aforethought.”

Scarpa remained silent as witnesses and sheriff’s deputies gave their accounts from that day, often hanging his head. A small group of members of the family sat instantly behind him, whereas Shanna Kreza sat on the jury facet of the courtroom surrounded by family members.

Costa Mesa Fireplace & Rescue, the place Kreza served 18 years, expressed its help for the fallen firefighter’s household in a put up on Fb.

“Your complete Costa Mesa Fireplace Household wraps their arms round Shanna Kreza and the ladies in the present day and we ship prayers, love and our help,” learn the put up, accompanied by the hashtag #belikeironmanmike.

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