Pleas of not guilty were entered Monday to two counts of murder on behalf of a 34-year-old man who authorities said was driving under the influence of alcohol when he crashed into a vehicle on Taft Highway, killing two women.
The attorney for Vincent Christopher Moroyoqui also entered not guilty pleas to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated during a hearing packed with family and friends of the victims. Moroyoqui was ordered held without bail.
Court documents show he has three prior drunken driving convictions. If convicted, he faces a life term in prison.
The victims' family left the courtroom immediately after Moroyoqui's arraignment to speak with Deputy District Attorney Brad Taconi, the prosecutor assigned to the case. Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael J. Yraceburn was also in attendance.
Moroyoqui's attorney, David A. Torres, declined comment afterward.
The crash occurred around 4:30 p.m. Thursday evening on Taft Highway, west of Buena Vista Road.
According to a probable cause declaration filed by the Sheriff's Office, Moroyoqui was driving east on Taft Highway in a 2006 GMC Sierra pickup that crossed into the westbound lane and hit a Ford Focus. Two witnesses identified Moroyoqui as the driver of the pickup.
An investigator noted Moroyoqui smelled strongly of alcohol and exhibited signs of being under the influence, including red, watery eyes, slurred speech and difficulty maintaining balance, the document said.
When asked if he'd been drinking, Moroyoqui responded, "No comment. I (expletive) up," according to the document.
Sharon Langham, a friend of the victims, who identified them as Taft residents Raeleen Sorensen, 50, and her daughter Raegan Sorensen, 19, was stunned by Moroyoqui's prior arrests. She said he should have been in jail.
"I’m absolutely horrified with the number of drunk drivers that are killing people and maiming people and they just continue to do it over and over and over," she said.
Moroyoqui is next due in court Sept. 18.