The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that alleged DUI motorist 47-year-old Margarito Angeles Vargas was found guilty of murder for his role in the death of a toddler last year.
The fatal crash happened at approximately 6:45 p.m. on September 24, 2022, when Margarito Angeles Vargas, 47, struck the child as she was crossing Redwood Street. Paramedics rushed the toddler to an area hospital, where she died early the next morning.
The attorney for the defense, Marie Maloney, argued that Vargas could not have seen the child in time to avoid hitting her because of the driver’s vantage point inside Vargas’ Toyota 4Runner SUV. Malone also said that because Redwood Street was in such poor repair that it made it bumpy and difficult to navigate, the tragic accident was “unavoidable.”
Deputy District Attorney Hailey Williams told the jury that Vargas made no attempt to stop after hitting the child and was later reported to have stopped at a street vendor and then struck another vehicle at a stoplight. When he was arrested at his home the day of the crash, Vargas had a blood alcohol level of .206 percent – more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.
Court records showed that Vargas had a prior conviction of DUI in which he had an even higher blood-alcohol level of .21 percent. Under California law, this prior conviction determined Vargas’ being charged with murder in the child’s death.
Prosecutors also told the jury that Vargas had run a stop sign before turning onto Redwood Street and nearly hit a parked pickup truck. According to investigators, the child was approximately 120 feet from the intersection, which gave Vargas ample time to slow down or stop.
The jury found Vargas guilty of DUI murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and hit and run.