Kincaid Orosco, accused of hitting and killing a woman who was pushing a baby across the street in Goleta last November, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges related to the incident. As per a complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office late last month, 18-year-old Orosco faces charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, felony sale or transportation of marijuana, felony possession of marijuana for sale, and unsafe operation of a motor vehicle with great bodily injury, which is an infraction.
If found guilty of the vehicular-manslaughter charge — under which the District Attorney’s Office said that Orosco acted “without malice” and “without gross negligence” — Orosco could be sentenced to one year in County Jail. The infraction, which relates to the injuries to the 20-month-old boy, would mean that Orosco would have to pay a fine; a statement from the Sheriff’s Office released after the incident said the boy was “recovering well” after being treated at the hospital. If convicted of the drug charges, Orosco could face up to four years in prison and have his license suspend for one year.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Orosco wasn’t arrested after the incident but was sent a letter to appear in court for his arraignment on Friday. Prior to his next court date in April, he will be booked and released from jail and then released on his own recognizance; he has not been in custody.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the incident for several months, on November 11, Orosco was driving westbound at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Cathedral Oaks Road when he hit Shuguang Lui, 59, who was pushing the boy across the street at Santa Marguerita Drive. Lui, a native of China, wasn’t the baby boy’s mother but was related to him. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Orosco’s attorney, Robert Landheer, argued unsuccessfully on Friday that Judge Thomas Adams not include a prohibition on marijuana use in Orosco’s release terms, saying that Orosco has a medical marijuana card. “It’s unfortunate to me that this is coupled with this case,” Landheer said after the hearing. “The investigation was because of this incredible tragedy. The collateral damage to this young kid are these other charges.” Landheer added that the amount of marijuana Orosco had with him at the time was an amount his doctor allowed.
Landheer continued, saying that, as far as he knew, Orosco wasn’t disobeying traffic laws at the time of the incident and if he had been, the charge would likely have been more severe. He said Orosco stopped after hitting the woman and went to her aid. Landheer said that Orosco has the support of his family and friends — his mother was with him in court on Friday — and that they are “very, very saddened by what happened to this woman” and “their condolences go out” to the families of her and the boy. “It’s not a crime; it’s a tragedy,” Landheer said. “Criminalizing a tragedy is what, in a sense, I feel this is.”
Construction on long-awaited pedestrian improvements for that intersection started in January, and the City of Goleta will hold an event marking the improvements’ completion on Wednesday. Additions to the intersection include pedestrian-activated flashing lights and a median pedestrian area; an extra street light will be installed soon.