Mallory Rae Dies, the 27-year-old victim of a DUI hit-and-run collision last Friday in downtown Santa Barbara, was declared dead at Cottage Hospital at 3:15 p.m. today, authorities said. The man charged with hitting her then driving away, 32-year-old Raymond Morua, has been charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter, and fleeing the scene of a crime. Dies suffered severe head trauma in the accident, and was on life support for much of her care.
Morua was re-booked in County Jail on the new charges — he has remained in custody since the incident, but was facing less serious counts until Dies passed away — and is scheduled to be arraigned in Superior Court this Friday. He is now being held without bail. Morua appeared in court Tuesday morning for an arraignment on his original charges, but his attorney, Sam Eaton, successfully petitioned Judge Thomas Adams to delay the hearing. Eaton has declined requests for comment.
Prosecutor Arnie Tolks said what degree of murder charge Morua faces will be determined during the case’s next phases, but explained it’s common for defendants in fatal DUI incidents to be prosecuted for second degree murder. Unlike first-degree murder — which requires that a killing be willful or premeditated — second-degree murder is defined by “malice aforethought,” Tolks said, noting “malice aforethought” can include gross negligence and reckless behavior with no regard for human life. In such cases, Tolks when on, a defendant’s history as it relates to driving under the influence plays a factor in their prosecution.
As The Santa Barbara Independent first reported on Monday, Morua has a criminal record that includes two prior DUI convictions as well as a previous hit-and-run conviction. He also served time in County Jail for grand theft by embezzlement after he and a co-worker were caught re-using redeemed coupons at Kmart. Morua had been a district representative for Congresswoman Lois Capps since 2011 until he was fired on Sunday. According to Capps’s representatives, the office did not routinely conduct criminal background checks as part of its hiring practices, but is currently re-examining its vetting procedures.
Capps press secretary Chris Meagher issued this statement Wednesday afternoon on behalf of the congresswoman: “Words cannot express the sadness I feel over the death of Mallory Rae Dies. This tragedy tugs at the heart of all of us in the community. It is clear that Mallory brought light into the many hearts of those who knew her. This senseless — and avoidable — tragedy is one that all of us in the Santa Barbara community will struggle with for a long time. I know firsthand what it feels like to lose a child. That anguish is something that no parent should face. My prayers are with her parents and all those who mourn today. I wish her, her family, and her friends peace.”