Retrial ordered in death of Lyft driver

A drunk motorist who fatally struck a Lyft driver tending to a sick passenger on a freeway shoulder must stand trial for a second time on murder and manslaughter charges after a first trial ended with a hung jury, a judge ruled May 11.

Steven Cervantes Quintero, 25, was found guilty last month of DUI causing injury, hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license in connection with the September 2016 crash. But the jury was deadlocked 6-6 on a second-degree murder charge and 10-2 for guilt on a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter.

Judge Kenneth So on May 11 declined Quintero’s attorney’s motion to dismiss those charges. Quintero will now face the accusations at a new trial.

“Everyone’s had a chance to argue” whether the charges should be dismissed, So said. “I understand it.”

Quintero has a prior DUI conviction from November 2015.

A passenger in the Lyft car, Kelly Hoffman, testified at a hearing last year that as she and two friends were headed home about 1 a.m. in the Lyft car driven by 41-year-old Henry O. Reyes of Escondido, passenger Sarah Smith got sick and Reyes pulled onto the shoulder of eastbound state Route 94 near 28th Street to get her out of the car and give her some water.

Minutes later, the Lyft car was hit from behind and Reyes — an aspiring dentist and the father of a 2-year-old child — was killed as he walked around the car to get back in.

  Quintero is due back in court June 11.

— City News Service

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