H-SANTA MARIA

Dec 12, 2013 6:51 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Santa Barbara County District Attorney explains rarely used murder charge in hit and run case

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney explained her decision Thursday to charge a former aide to Representative Lois Capps with murder, after a victim in a hit and run crash died.

Police say Raymond Morua struck Mallory Dies, 27, as she was crossing a street in downtown Santa Barbara last Friday.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley says murder is not a typical charge in these kinds of cases.

It's called the Watson Law and last time it was used in a case in the county was about five years ago.

The Watson Law prosecutes someone for second degree murder when they have multiple DUI convictions and there is believed to be implied malice.

Malice basically means the person supposedly knows what they are doing is dangerous but they do it anyway.

Morua has two prior convictions for driving under the influence back in 2006 and 2007 in Ventura County.

Police say in the most recent case he had a blood alcohol level of .17, more than twice the legal limit to drive.

The Watson Law was applied in a case back in 2008 when a district attorney investigator was killed by an intoxicated driver.

DA Dudley says DUI crashes happen far too often in Santa Barbara County.

"He's driven under the influence of alcohol on two occasions. He's been found guilty and pled guilty for driving under the influence of alcohol. He understands the ramifications that can occur and in this case driving under the influence and killing someone we believe he assumed that risk when he got behind the wheel," said Dudley.

Morua is also charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death.

If he is convicted of murder he faces 15 years to life in jail.

Morua worked in Representative Capps' district office in Santa Barbara, but is no longer employed in the congresswoman's office.

Morua's bail has been set at $250,000 for these charges.

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