Posted by on November 14, 2017
Categories: Bay Area

( – The defense lawyer for a Livermore man who was convicted of two
counts of second-degree murder for killing a mother and her baby in a
drunk-driving crash in Livermore in 2015 alleged today that the case was
tainted by juror misconduct.

Ernie Castillo, the attorney for 38-year-old Brian Jones, who was
convicted late Monday afternoon for causing the deaths of 46-year-old
Esperanza Morales-Rodriguez of Seaside and her 14-month-old daughter, Ulidia
Perez-Morales, on May 2, 2015, said, “The verdict in this case has no

Castillo said Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi
ruled before Jones’ trial began that the prosecution couldn’t tell jurors
that Jones has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated in Sacramento
County in 2003 because that information would be prejudicial.

But Castillo said that when a female juror told other jurors that
she would vote to convict Jones of gross vehicular manslaughter instead of
second-degree murder, another female juror, in an attempt to get her to
change her mind, told her in front of the entire panel about Jones’ prior

Castillo said Delucchi dismissed the juror who disclosed Jones’
prior conviction but he also dismissed the juror who had reported that
juror’s comments.

The defense attorney said the juror who reported the improper
comments “deliberated and participated in the legal process but was removed
simply because she was the focus of the offending juror’s misconduct.”

Castillo alleged that Delucchi’s decision to remove the holdout
juror “was a certain windfall against Mr. Jones and an implied direction from
the court to convict him of murder.”

“We will make every effort to get this verdict thrown out,”
Castillo said. “Brian Jones is not a murderer and he deserves a new trial.”

Prosecutors and police said Jones lost control of his car while
driving under the influence of alcohol and killed Morales-Rodriguez and her
daughter when he crashed into an apartment complex in the 900 block of
Murrieta Boulevard just before 6:50 p.m. that day.

Police said debris from the crash also struck two boys ages 6 and
7, who were taken to a hospital for treatment.

In addition to the two murder counts, Jones was convicted of
felony driving while intoxicated for injuring the 7-year-old boy.

Livermore police said Jones had attended the Livermore Wine
Country Festival before the crash.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said when she
filed charges against Jones that his blood-alcohol content was 0.14 percent,
well above the legal limit.

O’Malley said Jones was under the influence of alcohol as he drove
his car at speeds ranging from 75 mph to 99 mph through residential streets
in Livermore.

Prosecutor Kevin Ikuma asked jurors in his closing argument last
week to convict Jones of two counts of second-degree murder and the felony
DUI count.

But Castillo, who admitted that what Jones did was irresponsible,
said his client should only be convicted of the lesser charge of gross
vehicular manslaughter because he believes Jones didn’t intend to kill

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office declined to
comment on Castillo’s allegation that Jones didn’t get a fair trial.

Jones faces a lengthy state prison term of up to 30 years to life
or more when he’s sentenced by Delucchi on Feb. 23.