Witness describes Livermore crash that killed woman, 14-month old girl

Brian Jones, 36, charged with two counts of murder for deaths

A woman described in court Friday the horror of watching as an allegedly drunk driver killed her cousin and her cousin's 14-month-old daughter before crashing into her apartment complex in Livermore last year.

Fighting back tears, Rosa Morales said, "I was shouting, I was yelling for help" after a Chevrolet Corvette allegedly driven by 36-year-old Brian Jones slammed into her cousin, 45-year-old Esperanza Morales-Rodriguez of Seaside in Monterey County, and her 14-month-old daughter, Ulidia Perez-Morales before crashing into her apartment complex in the 900 block of Murrieta Boulevard in Livermore just before 6:50 p.m. on May 2.

Morales said, "My siblings were crying and then I was in shock."

Morales said the crash occurred while she was hosting a party to celebrate her daughter's 19th birthday. Morales-Rodriguez and her daughter, who were pronounced dead at the scene, had been among her guests.

She said the crash occurred when they went outside to throw away some trash.

Morales said, "We looked up and saw the car coming toward us" but they didn't have enough time to get out of the way.

Morales said her 7-year-old son and a 6-year-old relative were injured by debris from the crash.

Morales' testimony came in the first day of a preliminary hearing for Jones, who is charged with two counts of murder today for the deaths of Morales-Rodriguez and her daughter as well as two counts of felony driving under the influence of alcohol, causing injury, and multiple victim and excessive speed clauses.

Livermore police said Jones had attended the Livermore Wine Country Festival before the collision and prosecutors said his blood-alcohol content was determined to be 0.14 percent, well above the legal limit for drinking and driving.

Prosecutors said Jones, a Livermore resident, was under the influence of alcohol as he drove his car at speeds ranging from 75 mph to 99 mph through residential streets in Livermore.

Two witnesses at Jones' hearing today supported the prosecution's contention that he was driving at excessive speeds.

Livermore resident Richard Dalton said he was driving on Railroad Avenue shortly after 6:30 p.m. last May 2 when he heard loud noises and noticed the Corvette driven by Jones as well as a Chevrolet Camaro driven by another person.

Dalton said that as the cars waited at a red light, "I had the sense that the two cars (the Corvette and the Camaro) wanted to race."

Dalton said when the light turned green, the Corvette "took off at a high rate and I thought it was ridiculous."

He said his "conservative estimate is that the Corvette was traveling at 65 mph or more."

Dalton said that after he arrived at his apartment in the 1000 block of Murrieta Boulevard, "I heard what sounded like a car accident and then a loud boom."

Dalton said he sensed that Jones was the driver who was involved in the accident and his suspicion was confirmed when he went to the scene and saw him there.

Dalton said, "I thought the driver probably was dead or seriously injured" but two men were able to get Jones out of his car.

Virgil Alvis, who used to live in Livermore but now lives in Vacaville, said he was preparing to turn onto Murrieta when Jones tailgated him and then sped by at about 65 mph.

Alvis said he saw Jones again on East Stanley Boulevard and estimated that he "accelerated at upwards of 90 mph."

Alvis said, "I told my wife that if he's driving like that he's going to kill himself or someone else."

Prosecutor Connie Campbell and defense attorney Ernie Castillo stipulated in court today that Jones has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated in Sacramento County in 2003.

The preliminary hearing for Jones, who is being held at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin without bail, is expected to conclude when he returns to court on April 8.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine if there's enough evidence for him to stand trial on the charges against him.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service


6 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 21, 2016 at 10:56 am

"The purpose of the hearing is to determine if there's enough evidence for him to stand trial on the charges against him."

I'm going to guess that the answer turns out to be "Yes".

6 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 21, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Hopefully this guy doesn't have the same lawyer and gets the same judge that Mr. "Hit and run" Smith from San Ramon had because he'll be out on the streets looking for his next victim in a very short amount of time!! Fingers are crossed and hoping for the best for the families of the victims!

7 people like this
Posted by Al
a resident of Las Positas
on Feb 22, 2016 at 7:17 am

This man slaughtered innocents through his negligence and recklessness. He brings shame to his family name and sorrow to the Livermore community. I hope he is put away for a long time and his assets confiscated to support the victims families.

3 people like this
Posted by Lynne
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Smith and Jones???? Interesting that each have such common names.

3 people like this
Posted by Paper chaser
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2016 at 5:16 pm

The "Smith" referred to is Spencer Freeman Smith, the attorney that killed a guy that was riding his bike, then went home and tried to hide his car in his garage.

The judge, Michael Gaffey, of the Alameda County courts, reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, and gave Smith a total of 30 days in jail.

Smith was a practicing attorney who knew the system and the judges.

3 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 22, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Paper Chaser,
The smith story gets worse. He was released because his wife had a high risk pregnancy and was supposed to remain in bed. He and she recently traveled to Dubai on vacation and he returned with traces of cocaine in his system. He deserves the death penalty in my opinion - purposeful negligence of a special ruling in a homicide case?!

Like this comment
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 23, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Not only that, but Spencer Freeman Smith and his wife made that vacation trip to Dubai just a WEEK after he'd used her delicate health as a reason to avoid serving his single month of jail time in October, as initially decreed. Moreover, by traveling outside California, he also violated the terms of his probation.

The prosecutor claimed that he had misled the court, concerning his wife's health, but Smith's (new) attorney disagreed. (Seriously?!)

According to the PW article below, he is due back in court on February 25.

I really, really hope that, the family of the late Esperanza Morales-Rodriguez and her daughter will see true justice done: unlike the family of Bo Hu, the cyclist killed by Spencer Freeman Smith. But the long-delated outcome of the Smith case dealt a severe blow to any faith I had in the California justice system, so I'm not holding my breath.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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