Murder charges dismissed in Pasadena truck crash case

PASADENA — A judge dismissed two charges of murder Friday for a big rig driver involved in a crash that killed a father and daughter and injured 10 others, authorities said.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench dismissed the murder charges in Pasadena Superior Court, against the objection of prosecutors, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
The ruling was made because the judge determined there was not sufficient evidence indicating Costa displayed “implied malice,” or intent to kill, she said.
“Now, prosecutors are considering whether to appeal the judges decision,” Robison said. That decision will likely be announced at the next hearing in the case on Oct. 20.
Costa still faces five counts in connection with the April first crash at Angeles Crest Highway and the Foothill Boulevard, officials said.
Those include two counts of vehicular manslaughter for the deaths of Angel Jorge Posca, 58, and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina Posca, both of Palmdale, who died at the scene of the crash, Robison said, as well as three counts of reckless driving causing injury.
Costa’s attorney, Steve Meister, said his client was relieved at the news, though he is he is “somber” and “very much aware of the Posca family and the others who were injured in this accident.”
Meister said murder charges should never have been filed against his client in the first place.
“I applaud the court’s ruling,” he said. “The DA’s murder charge in this case was inappropriate and overstepping.”
He added that Costa did not have a bad driving record, was not intoxicated and was not knowingly disregarding a great risk to others.
Friday’s ruling, he said, serves as an “appropriate check” of the District Attorney’s Office.
Robison said the the DA’s Office believes murder charges are appropriate because Costa’s disregard of public safety amounted to implied malice, as he ignored warning signs and a verbal warning from an off-duty firefighter.
Prior to the crash, Costa was flagged down and warned by an off-duty firefighter that his brakes were smoking, Robison said, and told of the steep grade on Angeles Crest Highway.
Meister said that the off-duty firefighter did not identify himself as an official.
“Most importantly, he never told (Costa) not to drive Angeles Crest,” he said.
He added that the firefighter even gave Costa directions to Angeles Crest Highway.
The off-duty firefighter only warned Costa of an upcoming tunnel he thought the car-carrying truck may not fit through, Meister said, and told him to be careful.
Costa remained jailed Friday in lieu of $600,000 bail, according to sheriff’s booking records.
Meister said he will seek to have that reduced at the next hearing.
The crash occurred when Costa’s big rig apparently lost its brakes while descending a hill on Angeles Crest Highway and careened across Foothill Boulevard.
The truck struck several cars, including the compact car occupied by the Posca’s, before crashing into the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse.
In response to the crash, a bill was passed through the state legislature permanently ban all big rig traffic on Angeles Crest Highway.

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