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O.C. driver convicted for death while texting

January 28, 2010 12:04:50 AM PST
A Costa Mesa man faces up to nine years in prison for texting while driving, just before hitting and killing a pedestrian.An Orange County jury found 42-year-old Martin Kuehl guilty on Wednesday of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. The August 2008 accident in Newport Beach killed 32-year-old Martha Ovalle.

Deputy District Attorney Jason Baez said Kuehl's cell records showed that between 7:58 a.m. and 8:27 a.m. that day, he sent four text messages and received three. He received a text message at 8:25 a.m. and sent a reply two minutes later, right before 911 calls started pouring in about the accident at 8:31 a.m., Baez said.

Just before the accident, Kuehl idled at a green light for 10 seconds before a driver behind him honked, Baez said. Kuehl took a too-wide left turn onto Westcliff and then drifted back to the left lane before striking Ovalle, Baez said.

Kuehl will be sentenced on March 12. His attorney is already planning to appeal.

City News Service contributed to this story.