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Murder charges filed against habitual drunk driver that killed a Victorville mom and injured 2 children

HESPERIA, Calif. ( — The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has filed a murder charge against 41-year-old Jose Luis Vargas, after a DUI crash that left a Victorville mom dead and her two children critically injured.

According to the DA’s office, Defendant Vargas has multiple prior driving under the influence (DUI) convictions in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. Vargas is currently on probation for a 2022 Orange County felony DUI conviction.

In 2019 in San Bernardino County, Defendant Vargas was convicted of a felony DUI and was sentenced to 210 days in county jail and three years probation. At the time of conviction, he was put on notice with a Watson Advisement.

Lisette Villasenor
(Lisette Villasenor Facebook)

The Watson Advisement which he acknowledged reads, “If I plead guilty/no contest to a DUI case, (CVC23152, 23153, or 23103 pursuant to 23103.5) then pursuant to CVC 23593, I am hereby advised that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs my ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, it is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. If I continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of that driving, someone is killed, I can be charged with murder.”

In 2022, the defendant was convicted in Orange County of another felony DUI, where he was again given and signed his acknowledgment of the Watson Advisement. 

us highway 395 two vehicle accident major injuries

On Thursday, May 11, 2023, at approximately 6:31 p.m., deputies from the Hesperia Police Station and rescue personnel from the San Bernardino County Fire Department responded to a traffic collision on Highway 395, north of Poplar Street, in Hesperia.

The investigation determined Vargas drove a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe north on Highway 395 while under the influence of alcohol. Lisette Villasenor was driving a 2018 Toyota Prius in the opposite direction along with her two young children ages twelve and six. Sheriff’s officials said Vargas drove into oncoming traffic and caused the collision. He was not injured.

Villasenor and her children were transported to a regional trauma center by air and ground. Villasenor sustained major injuries and despite life-saving measures, she was later pronounced deceased at the hospital. Her children suffered moderate to major injuries.

us highway 395 two vehicle accident major injuries

During the investigation, deputies determined Vargas was under the influence of alcohol and over the California legal limit at the time of the crash. Vargas was booked at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony DUI.

On Monday, May 15, 2023, the DA’s Office filed the following charges on Vargas; Count 1 – PC187(a) Murder, Count 2 – VC23153(a) DUI Causing Injury w/Prior Convictions (minor victims), Count 3 – VC23153(a) DUI Causing Injury w/Prior Convictions (minor victims), Additional enhancements for Great Bodily Injury (GBI) for one minor victim are alleged on Counts 2&3.

Vargas pleaded not guilty at arraignment on May 15, at Rancho Cucamonga Superior Courthouse, with bail set at no bail. The next hearing date is set on May 18th, 2023 at Victorville Superior Courthouse Department V9.


Related Articles: Driver arrested for DUI and vehicular manslaughter after killing a young mother in Hesperia

Highway 395 in Hesperia closed Thursday night due to a major accident investigation

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