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SOLEDAD — David Merino Ramirez, 32, of Soledad was convicted by a jury of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving on a suspended license on Feb. 16.

On Aug. 21, 2020, around 9 p.m., Ramirez was driving northbound at speeds exceeding 80 mph on Metz Road between Greenfield and Soledad. Due to his excessive speed and level of intoxication, Ramirez lost control, striking a dirt embankment and flipping his car upside down. His passenger, Noe Santillan, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash by first responders.

California Highway Patrol officers arrived on the scene shortly after the crash. After conducting a series of field sobriety tests, police determined that Ramirez was under the influence of alcohol. A subsequent breath test showed that he had a blood alcohol level of .17, over twice the legal limit.

“Jurors also heard that Ramirez had suffered two prior convictions for driving under the influence, in 2015 and 2019,” according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office in a news release. “They also heard that when he was sentenced on those cases, he was warned that operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol is inherently dangerous to human life, and that should he continue to do so and a person were killed, he could be charged with murder.”

Based on the conviction, Ramirez faces up to 15 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for March 14.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

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