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Conviction is upheld  in fatal hit-and-run


Three years ago in Palmdale

A state appeals court panel this week upheld a man’s conviction for a hit-and-run crash in Palmdale that killed a 17 and 18-year-old victims just over three years ago.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that jurors in William Alexander Marquez’s trial were improperly instructed.

Marquez, now 37, was convicted in May 2022 of two counts each of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run driving, and sentenced the next month to 30 years to life in state prison for the Jan. 30, 2021, crash near 10th Street West and Avenue O-8.

“We find the prosecution’s case to be very strong,” Presiding Justice Maria Stratton wrote on behalf of the panel in its 14-page ruling. “It is undisputed that appellant drove at 80 to 85 miles per hour through a red light, hit the Honda Civic, and then fled the scene ... Video of the scene showed that no one was chasing appellant as he fled.”

The panel noted that Marquez testified in his own defense during his trial and that he maintained that he was being followed by another motorist after an initial crash with a Toyota Celica and his black Chrysler 200.

Albert Cruz, 17, and Sergio Martinez, 18, who were in the Honda Civic, died at the scene of the crash.

Marquez–who had publicly been named as the suspect–surrendered a week later.

He contended that beer bottles and cans that were found in the Chrysler, including a beer can that was cold to the touch, belonged to his brother, according to the appellate court panel’s ruling.

The appellate court panel also rejected the defense’s contention that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive rather than concurrent sentences on the two murder counts, finding that it was clear the court selected consecutive terms because there were two victims.