Crime - Sacto 911

Woodland man with history of seizure-related vehicle crashes convicted of murder

A Woodland man with a history of vehicle crashes due to his epilepsy has been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of an 85-year-old woman in 2014 collision.

A Yolo County jury on Friday also found 41-year-old Armando Gonzalez guilty of gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of Darlene Ruth Morales and convicted him of two counts of perjury for lying to the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a Yolo County District Attorney’s Office new release.

On Feb. 4, 2014, Gonzalez left work after having two seizures earlier that morning. Just after 2 p.m., while having a seizure and driving 80 mph in a 35 mph zone, he drove directly into Morales’ vehicle, authorities said. Morales’ vehicle was forced off the road, where it hit a light pole and then wrapped around a tree.

Morales was trapped in her car for nearly 20 minutes before fire and emergency crews were able to free her. She was taken to UC Davis Medical Center, where she died of her injuries. The collision occurred the day after Morales’ 85th birthday as she was on her way home after visiting her ailing husband at a rest home, officials said.

Gonzalez had caused four previous crashes due to his epilepsy, according to the DA’s Office. The first occurred in 2002 when he ran a stop sign while traveling at high speed, and hit a fence and four parked cars. The second crash occurred in 2004 when he ran a stop sign at high speed and drove into a cement wall. In the third instance, in 2010, Gonzalez felt a seizure coming and attempted to pull over but hit a parked car on the side of the road. In 2011, officials said, Gonzalez ran a stop sign at high speed and hit another car traveling through the intersection.

Gonzalez is to be sentenced May 8 by Yolo County Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson, who presided over the trial.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.