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Jury sent home after partial verdict reached in Foothill murder trial

Closing arguments began Tuesday in the murder trial of a big-rig driver whose runaway truck crashed in La Canada Flintridge.

July 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The judge in the murder trial of a truck driver who allegedly killed 2 in an accident sent the jury home for the day Thursday.

The jury reportedly has reached a verdict on the first two counts of 2nd-degree murder, but those verdicts were not announced.

The jury had further questions for the judge to clarify on the other counts.

The judge dismissed the jury for the day. Jurors are schedule to reappear in court Friday morning to have their questions answered.

Marcos Costa, 46, was charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving in the 2009 crash. The crash killed Angel Posca and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina. A dozen others were injured as the truck crashed into a bookstore and a nail salon.

According to court documents, a grand jury charged Costa with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and three counts of reckless driving causing specified injury.

On Oct 9, 2009, a judge dismissed both murder counts. But on April 6, 2010, 2nd District Court of Appeal Justice Tricia Bigelow directed the trial court to change its ruling and deny the dismissal of the murder charges.

Marcos Costa faced seven counts:

  • Count 1: 2nd-degree murder
  • Count 2: 2nd-degree murder
  • Count 3: Vehicular manslaughter
  • Count 4: Vehicular manslaughter
  • Count 5: Reckless driving causing specified injury
  • Count 6: Reckless driving causing specified injury
  • Count 7: Reckless driving causing specified injury
Costa's attorney claimed a combination of "insidious" geography and the lack of a runaway truck ramp on Angeles Crest Highway caused the crash in April 2009.

"In this case, there's no evidence that he committed a crime," said attorney Edward Murphy.

Murphy told jurors that Costa's truck and its brakes were working properly throughout the drive, until Costa reached the last mile-and-a-half of the highway.

"The horror of the situation as you're barreling down is that there is no way to stop the truck," Murphy said. "This is the reason for the accident. We know that Mr. Costa was in a panic, doing everything, including praying, to stop the truck. Do you think he wanted to hit anybody? Of course he didn't."

Prosecutors gave their closing arguments Tuesday, July 19. They say Costa shouldn't have been on the highway in the first place. They contend he ignored several warnings, including an off-duty firefighter who told him to turn around because his brakes were smoking.

"No, this was not just an accident, not a case where everything was going fine," said Deputy District Attorney Carolina Lugo, telling jurors the truck was a "25-ton lethal weapon."

Final defense arguments were made Wednesday, July 20. The prosecution dismissed Costa's claim that the crash was simply an accident, saying he should have taken more care with the rig.

Costa, who is Brazilian and speaks Portuguese, says language difficulties prevented him from understanding the warnings.

Lugo countered, however, that Costa still should have seen the smoke coming from his strained brakes.

Jury deliberations began Thursday morning, July 21.

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