Murder trial for DUI driver


A judge has determined a drunk driver is mentally competent to stand trial in the deaths of his two passengers which include a Chula Vista man killed in 2014.

The trial of Mario Alberto Carranza, 28, is set for June 15 in El Cajon Superior Court. He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder of passenger Carlos Kristopher Vargas, 20, of Chula Vista, and Monica Lupercio, 20, of San Diego.

Carranza drove them to a party in an Alpine residence, and he spent the night in a bathtub, apparently thinking he would sleep off the effects of drinking alcohol. However, he was still intoxicated at 7:30 a.m. when he started to drive them home and lost control of his vehicle on Interstate 8 near Lake Jennings Park Road.

He drifted onto the center divider, overcorrected, and drove through a chain link fence. His Nissan overturned in a concrete culvert.

Carranza is also charged with two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and it will be up to a jury to decide if the crash was murder, manslaughter, or an accident. He was convicted of misdemeanor drunk driving in 2007.

Criminal proceedings had been suspended since Sept. 22, 2015, but were resumed after a San Diego Superior Court judge found him mentally competent after reading his psychiatric evaluation.

He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $1 million bail.

Murder trial for DUI driver