Convicted DUI driver charged with murder after crash kills boy riding bike in California, DA says


Noel Bascon is seen in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page.

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KTLA) – Prosecutors on Tuesday announced charges against a previously convicted DUI driver in connection with a crash that killed a 12-year-old boy with autism in California over the weekend.

Richard Lavalle, 59, of Long Beach, was charged with one count of murder, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.

He’s accused of being behind the wheel of a Ford F-150 that struck and killed Noel Bascon in the intersection of Junipero and Arlington drives around 6 p.m. Sunday, according to a DA’s news release.

Bascon was riding his bicycle with his father at the time.

He was hit while in the crosswalk and thrown several feet by the force of the impact, according to the Costa Mesa Police Department. They indicated the driver had run a stop sign.

After receiving CPR at the scene from a passerby and officers, Bascon was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A GoFundMe account has been established to help pay the boy’s funeral costs.

Lavalle and a passenger in the truck remained at the crash site, and both were arrested following an investigation.

Lavelle was booked on suspicion of murder, driving under the influence of drugs, and a parole violation, according to authorities.

The passenger, 56-year-old Lee Anna Diaz Murphy of Artesia, was booked on suspicion of possession of controlled substances and possession of unlawful paraphernalia, police said. As of Tuesday, charges had not been filed against her.

Officials did not release a booking photo of either suspect.

Lavelle has a prior conviction for driving under the influence in San Diego County in 2013, prosecutors said.

“The unimaginable pain that this family is being forced to endure because of the selfish decision of a stranger is unconscionable,” Orange County DA Todd Spitzer said in the release. “I am sick and tired of my prosecutors having to go to court to file murder charges against repeat drunk and drugged drivers who have been warned about the consequences – sometimes multiple times.”

In California, those previously convicted of DUI could potentially be charged murder if they kill someone while driving impaired, the DA’s release explained.

Lavelle faces a possible maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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