A jury found Bani Marclea Duarte, 29, of San Clemente, guilty of murdering three Las Vegas teenagers and injuring fourth while driving under the influence.
Duarte was convicted of three felony counts of murder, one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and a sentencing enhancement of great bodily injury. She faces 51 years to life in state prison.
In the early morning hours of March 29, 2018, Duarte was driving under the influence on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
At approximately 1 a.m., four Las Vegas high school students who were celebrating their spring break in Orange County were stopped in a vehicle at a red light on Pacific Coast Highway and Magnolia.
Duarte failed to stop at the red light and rear-ended the victims’ vehicle at a high rate of speed, causing an impact that pushed the car through the intersection and forced it into a pole, where it stopped and burst into flames.
Seventeen-year-old Brooke Haw ley, 18-year-old Dylan Mack, and 17-year-old Albert Rossi were pronounced dead at the scene. John Doe survived the collision, suffering great bodily injury including burns and a concussion.
Duarte was arrested at the scene by the Huntington Beach Police Department.
Duarte had previously been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2016 and had lost her license for a year.
“There was no reason for these three young people to have lost their lives to a repeat drunk driver,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The unnecessary loss of life is why I, as a member of the State Assembly, authored the Steve Ambriz Act to require every Californian who wants a driver’s license to sign a form that states he or she has been advised that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and if they do so anyway and someone is killed, they can be charged with murder. This was not an accident. It was a choice – and it was a deadly one.”
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldman prosecuted the case.
This article was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.