A former semi-truck driver accused of killing two people in a multi-vehicle crash in Orcutt in February 2019, is asking to be released from jail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gil Patrick Pena, 57, of Santa Maria, is scheduled to appear before Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Kelly on May 22 for a bail hearing and will seek the release at that time, according to Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Schoenburg.
Pena was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs when he drove a Sysco semi-truck into four vehicles near Union Valley Parkway and Highway 135 on the morning of Feb. 7, 2019, killing Rick Motley, 60, and Jesse Gluyas, 25.
Additionally, the collision injured several other people, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
The family of a Santa Maria man killed in a multivehicle crash on Highway 135 near Orcutt has filed a wrongful death suit against Gil Pena, the tractor-trailer driver whose big rig slammed into the back of a sedan in a collision near Orcutt.
Judge Kelly upheld the two counts of murder against Pena in a three-day preliminary hearing held in December 2019.
Bob Sanger, Pena's defense attorney, declined to comment on the release request, although Schoenburg said she opposes the release. Pena's bail is set at $2 million.
The Superior Court in April required bails be set at $0 for pre-trial detainees who are accused of serious crimes, including violent ones, to prevent coronavirus spread, although it's not clear if Sanger based his request on the rule.
In addition to the criminal case, Pena and his former employer, Sysco Corporation, face six civil lawsuits from victims injured in the crash and family of the victims who were killed.
Pena is scheduled to appear in Department 9 in Santa Maria at 1:30 p.m. May 22.
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