Javier Artemio Cortes Cortes admits to killing two people in Santa Maria collision
A man who ran a red light while under the influence of alcohol and driving at speeds greater than 100 mph, crashing into a Jeep at the intersection, killing two people and injuring two others, has pleaded guilty to murder and DUI charges.
The plea was announced Wednesday by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.
The defendant, Javier Artemio Cortes Cortes, pleaded guilty to the murder of Madison Coleman and Monica Gonzalez, and to driving under the influence, causing great bodily injury to Makayla Everhart and Kimberly Olivo, District Attorney Dudley said.
Under California law, a driver can be charged with murder under these circumstances when the evidence supports they acted with knowledge and reckless disregard for human life.
On March 15, 2019, Javier Artemio Cortes Cortes drank alcohol at a party. By all appearances he had too much to drink, but in spite of being offered a place to stay for the night, he decided to drive home while under the influence of alcohol, prosecutors said.
Although he made it home safely, he then decided to leave his home while still under the influence of alcohol. He then proceeded to drive more than 100 miles per hour down Donovan Street in Santa Maria.
At 3 a.m. on March 16, 2019, the defendant ran a red light at the intersection of Donovan and Miller streets at speeds over 100 mph.
Madison Coleman was driving a Jeep Cherokee with her three friends inside — Monica Gonzalez, Makayla Everhart and Kimberly Olivo. She proceeded slowly into the intersection on a green light when she was broadsided by the defendant at a speed of over 100 mph, prosecutors said.
Despite wearing seatbelts, Monica Gonzalez and Kimberly Olivo were ejected from the Jeep. Ms. Gonzalez, 20, died at the scene.
Madison Coleman, 17, was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, where she died from her traumatic injuries.
Kimberly Olivo, 18, was transported to Cottage Hospital, where she survived after undergoing extensive surgeries over a significant period of time.
And Makayla Everhart, 20, was transported to Marian, having suffered great bodily injuries. She, too, survived.
“The prosecution team led by Deputy District Attorney Madison Whitmore and Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner worked diligently on every detail of this case for an extended period of time, including ensuring that the survivors and the families of the deceased voices were heard throughout these proceedings,” District Attorney Dudley said.
“In addition to the prosecution team, I want to personally commend the Santa Maria Police Department on a thorough investigation and the California Highway Patrol accident reconstruction expert for their careful evaluation of the evidence.
“This plea is merely just another step toward healing for all of the families whose lives have been forever tragically altered.”
The defendant is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 16, when he is expected to be sentenced to 21 years to life in state prison, prosecutors said.