A Chico State University student who was behind the wheel in a car crash that killed two people Friday in Avila Beach has been booked on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Evan Alexander Green, 21, was taken to San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he was being held without bail Monday.
CHP officers also booked him on suspicion of driving without a valid license, and investigators suspect he was driving under the influence.
The two men who died are Aaron Beaver, 21, of Eureka and Marcus Nelson, 21, of Castro Valley, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The left rear passenger, Jacob Zimmer, 21, of Castro Valley, suffered major injuries.
The District Attorney’s Office still must analyze the evidence and Green’s prior criminal record, including his driving history, before making a decision about how to file charges.
But his arraignment could come today because of a legal requirement regarding a suspect’s right to an arraignment when he is being held without bail.
Typically, prosecutors reserve second-degree murder charges for cases in which they are confident they can prove that the accused knew the danger of his or her actions and showed conscious disregard for human life.
The charge carries a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison, and it requires compelling evidence that shows implied malice.
Recent driving-related cases in which prosecutors have filed second-degree murder charges have included the case against Jerardo Iriarte, the 20-year-old Oceano man who is accused of killing a couple walking on a road in Pismo Beach.
Authorities say Iriarte was trying to hurt himself and drove off Highway 101 after becoming distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend. Drugs and alcohol aren’t believed to be a factor in that case. A judge in April ruled there is enough evidence for his case to proceed to trial.
Another recent incident in which an allegedly impaired driver was charged with second-degree murder is the Kaylee Weisenberg case. Officials say Weisenberg sped around a curve along a road near Paso Robles — allegedly on methamphetamine — and lost control of her vehicle, causing a crash that killed a CHP officer who was examining a car on the side of the road.
UC Berkeley Law School professor Malcolm Feeley said that, typically, prosecutors look at a suspect’s criminal record and the circumstances of the crash when trying to decide whether to charge a driving fatality as second-degree murder.
But Feeley said it’s unusual for a driver to face second-degree murder in a DUI-related fatal crash.
“Prosecutors also are famous for charging at one level and then reducing charges as the case continues,” Feeley said. “Certainly any charge is a bargaining chip, and prosecutors usually offer something in the way of reduction.”
Authorities aren’t releasing any prior driving or criminal record that Green might have or the details of any toxicology examination.
Green told police he was driving 45 mph on Avila Beach Drive, authorities said. The CHP is continuing its investigation.
Green missed a leftward curve in the road, veered right, overcorrected and then flipped the 2004 Saturn Vue several times, officers said.
The Saturn eventually crashed through a fence and landed on its roof near the Avila Beach Golf Resort.