The man accused of drunkenly crashing into a Long Beach family on Halloween night has been charged with three counts of murder, according to a court official.
Carlo Navarro did not appear in Long Beach Superior Court to face the charges today, but he’s set to be back in front of the judge Wednesday afternoon where he could enter a plea.
Navarro, 20, is accused of being behind the wheel of an SUV that jumped the curb at high speed and crashed into Joseph Awaida, his wife Raihan Dakhil and their 3-year-old son Omar as they walked home on Halloween night.
Authorities haven’t publicly revealed how much they believe Navarro was drinking the night of the crash, but after a brief hearing Tuesday afternoon, defense attorney Bryan Schroeder said Navarro’s blood-alcohol level was measured at .11 about two hours after the crash.
When exactly Navarro drank and how intoxicated he may have been will be key to the case, according to Schroeder.
He said police reports from that night show Navarro was drinking with a few buddies right up to the moment he got behind the wheel. Schroeder argued that means Navarro’s blood-alcohol level likely was below a .08 at the time of the crash and peaked around .11 hours later. When police took another measurement a few hours after the .11, Navarro’s blood-alcohol level was at .07, Schroeder said.
The police reports say Navarro was speeding before the crash, upwards of 70 to 80 mph, according to Schroeder.
Afterward, the 20-year-old was immediately horrified by what happened, the attorney said.
The police reports say Navarro was not only polite and cooperative with officers, he was “apologetic and sad,” according to Schroeder.
“I’ve never seen that before ever,” he said.
Along with the three murder counts, prosecutors also filed three lesser charges of gross-vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for allegedly causing Joseph, Raihan and Omar’s deaths, according to a court clerk.
Navarro was originally arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter after the family’s death, but prosecutors chose to file the more serious charges.
To prove Navarro is guilty of murder, prosecutors would have to show Navarro knew how dangerous it was for him to be driving and chose to disregard the risk, according to legal experts. Typically, this happens when a driver in a deadly DUI crash has past convictions for driving while intoxicated, which is not the case with Navarro.
Joseph’s aunt, Cecilia Ramos, said her family is pleased authorities are treating the allegations against Navarro so seriously, but the murder charges haven’t brought them any comfort.
“Actually the finality of our loss is beginning to settle in,” she said in a text message. “The only thing we feel is sadness.”
Schroeder said Navarro’s family has thought about trying to contact the Awaida family.
“The family feels terrible,” he said. “They want to reach out to this other family and tell them how sorry they are, but they’re just in shock right now and they don’t have the words.”
Navarro could be sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison if convicted. He’s being held without bail.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with information from Carlo Navarro’s defense attorney.