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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Santa Rosa Man Sentenced on DUI Murder

Santa Rosa, CA  –  March 20, 2019  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that defendant Jose Manuel Lopez-Perez, 26 years-old of Santa Rosa, was sentenced today to 21 years to life in prison by Judge Robert LaForge following his convictions for 2nd Degree Murder and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated. The defendant entered his pleas on the first day of jury trial.

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “No one driving a child to school in the morning should meet the terrible fate this family did. The selfish choice to drink and drive, after being convicted and sent to impaired driver education training, caused the tragic loss of two lives. This resolution ensures the longest period of incarceration possible for this repeat drunk driver, and should serve as a warning to anyone who considers similar conduct.”

The charges resulted from a collision on Highway 12 near Agua Caliente on the morning of November 14, 2017 at about 7:45 am. Estefania Soto, 27, was driving her daughter Kaliyah Adkins, 7, to school when the defendant’s truck crossed over the center line and crashed head-on into the victim’s sedan. Estefania was killed instantly and Kaliyah was gravely injured. Good Samaritans who witnessed the collision and its immediate aftermath pulled Kaliyah from the vehicle and performed CPR on her until paramedics arrived on scene approximately five minutes later. Kaliyah was transferred to Oakland Children’s Hospital where she died on November 16, 2017.

Lopez-Perez had gotten off work around 11:45pm on November 13th and went to a friend’s house to drink beer. Lopez-Perez told police that he drank beer for several hours while sitting in his truck. He also told police that at some point in the early morning hours he went to Safeway to buy more beer and was initially denied by the store. Surveillance video that was collected by investigators showed the defendant trying to purchase beer at 5:58am and the store declined the transaction because alcohol sales are prohibited in California between 2-6am. After getting more beer Lopez-Perez returned to his friend’s house and continued to drink beer in his truck until about 7:40am, when he decided to leave because he had to take his daughter to school. Lopez-Perez drove about one mile before slamming head-on into Estefania and Kaliyah’s vehicle just north of Agua Caliente Road.

At the hospital a blood sample was drawn from the defendant which showed his blood alcohol level was .17%.

Lopez-Perez was charged with murder because of his prior experience with driving under the influence. He was charged with driving under the influence in 2013 after he crashed his car on Occidental Road. When he was convicted of that offense a few weeks later he was advised by a Superior Court Judge that, “driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is inherently dangerous to human life. If you continue to drive under the influence and as a result of your driving someone is killed, you can be charged with murder.”

This case was investigated by the Napa Area CHP office and Robyn Katz with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted by David Kim and Matt Hubley. Judge Robert Laforge presided over the case.

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Contact Information

Joan Croft
Media Coordinator
Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
Contact us by Phone
Address
600 Administration Drive
Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.466524, -122.726273