Bellflower, California – A 26-year-old man from Bellflower was handed a sentence of two years in jail on Monday for vehicular manslaughter in connection with a hit-and-run accident that occurred in Santa Ana and resulted in the deaths of two individuals.
On April 20, 2019, at around 9:15 p.m., when Damian Chavez and another driver were participating in a race, the other driver’s vehicle collided with a tree in the 3200 block of South Bear Street. Jerman Marquez, age 39, and Richard Inda, age 29, were both declared dead at the scene after their vehicle caught fire.
Chavez entered a guilty plea on May 23 to two charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and hit and run with permanent and serious injury. He also admitted sentencing enhancements for leaving the scene of a vehicular manslaughter.
In April 2020, Chavez’s case made news when Orange County DA Todd Spitzer criticized a county commissioner for reducing Chavez’s bond from $100,000 to $20,000. This allowed Chavez to be released from jail only hours later.
According to Spitzer’s office, the commissioner lowered the bail because of the pandemic and turned down two appeals from the prosecution.
Spitzer criticized the state’s program to lower bail for a large number of defendants in order to reduce the population in the prisons at the time of the coronavirus pandemic.