Marcos Angel Almaguer, the asphalt-truck driver who struck and killed UCSB senior Kendra Payne last January will now face a settlement conference in June to determine whether he will be tried on charges of vehicular manslaughter.
On June 29, Almaguer, his defense attorney William Duval and county District Attorney Pat McKinley will meet with Judge Clifford R. Anderson III to determine whether Almaguer will stand trial or settle the case out of court. As of yesterday afternoon, Almaguer had pleaded not guilty to the charge of vehicular manslaughter. If convicted Almaguer could receive up to a year in Santa Barbara County Jail, McKinley said.
The charge stems from a January 11 incident in which Almaguer hit and killed 21-year-old Payne with his truck as she rode her bicycle on the side of Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County.
“He’s charged with a single count of vehicular manslaughter,” McKinley said. “To commit vehicular manslaughter, you have to be driving a vehicle with some negligence that has caused the death of another person.”
Duval said the district attorney’s office is charging Almaguer with simple, or unintentional, negligence.
“This misdemeanor is obviously not an act committed with gross negligence, which is willful disregard for other people,” Duval said.
Duval said he thinks the case is complicated, and said he is unsure whether it will proceed to trial. He said he does not think that Almaguer was completely at fault for the accident because many local residents think Gibraltar Rd. is a generally dangerous place to drive.
“Gibraltar is a very steep-grade mountain road,” Duval said. “There was quite a bit of rain at that time, and there were a lot of problems with that road. The truck was probably going less than five miles per hour.”
McKinley said he is uncertain whether the case will go to trial.
“I don’t know where this will end up,” McKinley said. “But if it goes to trial, we’ll need to convince 12 jurors that he knew he shouldn’t have passed her there.”
Should a jury convict Almaguer, he could also face a civil suit from Payne’s family. McKinley said the family could also bring civil charges against Almaguer’s employer and against Santa Barbara County, which owns Gibraltar Rd.
If Payne’s family were to win any civil suits related to her death, McKinley said, they would be entitled to monetary compensation.
“Damages are, in general, [calculated by asking] what’s the loss to the victim’s surviving relatives,” McKinley said.