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Appeals panel orders murder charges reinstated against trucker in Angeles Crest Highway crash

April 6, 2010 |  4:45 pm

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A state appeals court panel Tuesday ordered two murder charges reinstated against a trucker whose out-of-control big rig killed a Palmdale man and his 12-year-old daughter last year in La Cañada Flintridge.

The three-justice panel from the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned Pasadena Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench’s ruling dismissing the second-degree murder counts against Marcos Barbosa Costa. The panel found Lench erred in her decision to grant a motion by Costa’s attorney to dismiss the charges.

Costa was driving a car hauler on April 1, 2009, when his brakes failed on the steep Angeles Crest Highway descent into La Cañada Flintridge. The big rig hit a small red Ford, killing Angel Posca and his daughter Angelina instantly, then collided with several other vehicles before smashing into a bookstore and a nail salon.

Despite being warned about “the condition of his brakes, the nature of the steep, winding road ahead and the fact many drivers would be on the road at the time, Costa decided to drive his 25-ton, 18-wheel truck into La Cañada. His brakes continued to put out more and more streams of smoke, yet he decided to drive past two turnouts while the brakes were barely working, ultimately driving onto Foothill Boulevard and killing Angel and his daughter,” wrote Presiding Justice Tricia A. Bigelow on behalf of the panel.

Costa, 44, of Everett, Mass. was indicted in June on multiple counts, including two of second-degree murder. In October, however, Lench dismissed the murder charges at the request of the defense. She agreed there was insufficient evidence to show Costa intended to kill the victims. Prosecutors appealed.

In her ruling, Bigelow noted that there was sufficient evidence “for assuming the possibility that Costa decided to continue to drive his truck down Angeles Crest Highway with an actual awareness of the great risk of harm his actions created, resulting in the deaths of two people.”

-- Richard Winton

Photo: L.A. Times file

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