HAYWARD -- A parolee has been convicted of three counts of second-degree murder for an incident in December 2009 in which he was trying to flee from police and wound up causing a crash that left three of his passengers dead.
Leo Olguin, a 25-year-old Hayward man, faces up to 45 years to life in state prison for his conviction last week for the three deaths he caused in the early morning hours of Dec. 23, 2009.
However, he could have faced an even longer prison sentence if he had been convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, which is the outcome prosecutors asked jurors to deliver.
Olguin's lawyer, William Cole, said Wednesday that he asked jurors to only convict Olguin of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which he said is closely related to second-degree murder but carries a lighter sentence.
"I think that would have been a more appropriate verdict, but I understand the contrary opinion," Cole said.
He said, "I have no criticism of the jury's verdict, but I don't agree with it."
Cole said jurors acquitted Olguin of two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery. He said jurors couldn't convict Olguin of first-degree murder without also convicting him of robbery.
Olguin was arrested at the end of the incident at about 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 23, 2009. Authorities said he attempted to evade police and ran stop signs and red lights before crashing a Mazda sedan through the trailer of a big-rig truck and into a pole at Foothill Boulevard and A Street in Hayward.
Andrew Falcon, 17, of Livermore, Dominic Hall, 18, of Hayward and Vanessa Hurtado, 16, of San Leandro were killed in the crash.
A fourth passenger spent several days in the hospital with serious injuries.
Olguin suffered only minor injuries in the crash. Authorities said he apparently ducked when the Mazda went under the big rig, partially severing the roof and crushing the rest of the car.
According to Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson, the incident began when two deputies who were looking for drunken drivers spotted the Mazda driving erratically near Mission Boulevard and Smalley Avenue.
Olguin's blood-alcohol level was 0.09, which put him above the legal limit for drinking and driving, Nelson said.
The armed robbery charges against Olguin stemmed from a robbery at gunpoint of three people in a residential Hayward neighborhood about 45 minutes before the fatal crash.
Nelson said authorities believe that Hall and Falcon were the ones who confronted the robbery victims at gunpoint shortly before the fatal crash.
Sgt. David Dickson said the sheriff's gang unit previously had "numerous contacts" with Hall.
Olguin is charged with having two prior felony convictions, one for carjacking and one for possession of an assault weapon.
Judge Roy Hashimoto, who is presiding over the case, will hold a hearing on Olguin's prior convictions on Jan. 14.
Cole said Olguin is challenging those prior convictions because if they're affirmed, his sentence could be doubled.
Olguin's sentencing date will be scheduled after the hearing on his prior convictions.
Cole said he's glad that Olguin was convicted of second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder but said it's only "a legal victory without substance" for Olguin because he still faces a possible life sentence.
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