The Los Angeles Times Daily Pilot reports that a jury has convicted a Garden Grove man in an Orange County Court of the charge of second-degree murder for his role in a 2019 crash that killed a bicyclist.
Jurors deliberated for five hours on the fate of Victor Manuel Romero, 28, before handing down the verdict of second-degree murder, DUI, and hit-and-run causing significant bodily injury.
Because Romero has a prior DUI conviction and was aware that should he be convicted of DUI in a fatal case in the future, he would be facing the charge of second-degree murder.
According to court documents, on March 30, 2019, Romero began his evening at the Hurricane Bar and Grill. Senior Deputy District Attorney Janine Madera told the jurors that Romero had been driving his BMW that night and later got into a fistfight in the establishment’s parking lot. The Huntington Beach Police were called to the scene.
By the time police officers arrived, the fight was over, but officers observed that Romero displayed apparent signs of intoxication. When asked Romero how he would get home, he told one police officer that he would call for an Uber. Romero then told a second officer that his sister would be coming to pick him up.
Instead, he got into a parking garage elevator with an eyewitness who asked Romero if he intended to drive in his current inebriated state. Romero said he was and then proceeded to tear out of the parking garage and hit the vehicle of the owner of the bar.
A short time later, an Uber driver witnessed Romero blow through a red light at a high rate of speed and strike the victim, a 33-year-old transient man on a bicycle, disabling his BMW. When the Uber driver tried to assist him, Romero ran away. Later he told police he was carjacked but was wearing a key that matched the vehicle around his neck.
Police arrested Romero and administered a blood-alcohol test which indicated he had a BAC of .18 – more than twice the legal limit.
With this conviction, Romero will face 15 years to life in prison. Romero’s sentencing is scheduled for February of 2023.