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Man convicted of murder in drunk-driving case

June 30, 2011

A Costa Mesa man was convicted Thursday of killing a 20-year-old woman while driving drunk on Valentine's Day last year, the Orange County district attorney's office said in a news release.

A jury convicted Gustavo Vega, 23, of killing Cara Lee, a passenger in another car, in a collision at the intersection of Sunflower Avenue and Flower Street, after he sped through a red light in his Toyota Tundra early on the morning of Feb. 14, 2010, according to prosecutors.

He was convicted of one felony count of murder, one felony count of hit-and-run resulting in death, and one felony count of possession of cocaine, the release said.

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Vega, who was a student at Orange Coast College at the time of the crash, fled the scene on foot and hid in a nearby housing complex. When located at the housing complex, he was also found to be in possession of cocaine, the release said.

Lee was pronounced dead at the crash site. Vega had a prior conviction for drunk driving from 2006, and had been warned about the dangers of drinking and driving. He had signed a form acknowledging that he could face a murder charge if he killed someone while driving under the influence, the release said.

He is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 16. He faces a maximum sentence of 19 years and eight months in prison.

—Lauren Williams

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