LANCASTER – A 24-year-old Lancaster man was convicted Thursday of driving under the influence of alcohol and killing a man who was traveling home from work, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Jurors deliberated less than three hours before finding Jeffrey Cole Brooks guilty of second-degree murder for the death of 21-year-old Daniel Eduardo Orellana.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Rochmes, who prosecuted the case, said on the evening of September 26, 2014, Brooks drove his 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to the Park and Ride on Avenue S in Palmdale to meet friends.
The group was taking a “party bus” to a club in Los Angeles.
According to court testimony, Brooks began drinking alcohol in the parking lot before boarding the bus and while on the bus. When Brooks arrived at the club, he continued to drink with his friends, the prosecutor said.
At the end of the night, the bus transported Brooks and his friends back to Palmdale and dropped them off at the Park and Ride. Although his friends warned him he was too drunk to drive, Brooks got into the driver’s seat of his car and exited the parking lot onto Avenue S, according to the prosecutor.
As Brooks drove eastbound at high speeds, he rear-ended Orellana, who was stopped at a red light on his commute home from work. The impact of the collision caused Orellana’s car to burst into flames and spin across the intersection, the prosecutor said.
At trial, an expert collision reconstructionist with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department testified that Brooks was driving more than 88 miles per hour when he struck Orellana. Additionally, a sheriff’s department criminalist testified that Brooks’ blood-alcohol level was between 0.27% and 0.30% at the time of the collision.
Furthermore, at the time of the crash, Brooks was on probation in San Diego County for alcohol-related reckless driving. He had attended court-ordered DUI education classes, which emphasized the dangers of driving under the influence, the prosecutor said.
Sentencing for Brooks is scheduled for July 1 in Department A18 at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Antelope Valley Branch. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
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