Marcos Costa was charged with murder and reckless driving in the deadly crash at Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Boulevard in April 2009.
Wearing a dark suit and relying on a Portuguese interpreter, Costa listened as prosecutor Carolina Lugo outlined the charges he faces. The seven counts include two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
In her opening statement to the jury, Lugo said Costa should not have been on Angeles Crest Highway, heading toward La Canada in his 18-wheeler. His 25-ton truck was prohibited from being on that road.
She showed the jury the dramatic video from a municipal bus that recorded the impact and added that witnesses would describe what they heard and saw on that day.
"What they heard was the sound of the scraping metal that would be of that red Ford Sedan as it scraped down Angeles Crest Highway down into Foothill Boulevard," Lugo said in court.
Angel Posca, 58, and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina were killed when Costa's big rig hit their car. Twelve others were injured.
Costa's attorney said brake fade caused him to lose control of the truck as it careened down Angeles Crest Highway, adding that he didn't intend to hurt anyone that day.
"I think that you will find that, when you hear all the evidence in this case, Mr. Costa did everything under the sun to avoid the accident, including crying out to God to help him," said defense attorney Edward Murphy.
Major safety improvements have been made to the Angeles Crest Highway to prevent another deadly accident, like runaway truck medians to stop trucks if they lose their breaks.
Contractor David Spiller of Sherman Oaks said he was doing some work nearby when he saw a gravel truck stuck in the escape median just a few days ago.
"The front end of the wheels were almost buried, and the rear end was halfway buried. It took at least three to four hours before they were able to pull them out of there," Spiller said.
Testimony in the trial will begin on Monday. The first person scheduled to take the stand is the mother and widow Yanette Posca.