Murder charges have been filed against the man prosecutors say was drunk and driving more than 100 miles per hour causing a deadly crash in Santa Maria earlier this year that killed two young women from Atascadero.
The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced the charges Wednesday morning during a bail review hearing for Javier Artemio Cortes.
The 27-year-old has been out on bail since shortly after the March 16 crash at the intersection of Donovan Road and Miller Street.
Two people from Atascadero, identified as Madison Elizabeth Coleman, 17, and Monica Gonzalez, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene. Two others, identified in court documents as Kimberly Olivo and Makayla Angelique Everhart, were injured.
A DA investigator said Cortes was driving 104 miles per hour at the time of the crash.
Some of the victims’ family members spoke in court after charges were announced.
Madison Coleman’s mother, Julie, told the court she cries every day and does not sleep or really eat. She asked that bail be denied for Cortes.
Another person said she sees the suspect and doesn’t understand why he is free while her family is suffering.
The father of Kimiberly Olivo says he doesn’t know if his daughter will ever walk again and doesn’t understand why Cortes remained out of custody.
Cortes’s defense attorney, Paul Greco, argued bail should be kept at $100,000. He also said drugs were found in the girls’ car after the crash. Ultimately, the judge sided with the prosecutor and upped bail to $2 million. Cortes was taken back into custody after the hearing.
Along with murder, the DA’s Office has also charged Cortes with DUI and special allegations of great bodily injury, a DUI speed enhancement, driving with a BAC over .15% and causing bodily injury to more than one victim.
Prosecutors said Cortes did not have any prior DUIs and would only say the murder charges were filed upon “further investigation” of the crash.
Cortes pleaded not guilty. He is due back in court June 20.