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Newhall woman faces murder charges in Arizona

Prosecutors allege driver was drunk when vehicle collided with a minivan, killing 2 children

Posted: May 16, 2013 4:00 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2013 4:00 a.m.
The scene of the crash that killed two children on Aug. 15, 2011. The scene of the crash that killed two children on Aug. 15, 2011.
The scene of the crash that killed two children on Aug. 15, 2011.

A Newhall woman charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with a fatal 2011 crash near the Arizona state line that claimed the lives of two children goes on trial in Arizona this week, The Signal has learned.

Rebecca Loya, 59, appeared in La Paz County Superior Court in Parker, Ariz., on Tuesday and is scheduled to appear again today.

The first day of Loya’s trial began in earnest Tuesday with jury selection, a La Paz County clerk said Wednesday.
“A jury has been chosen,” the clerk said.

Loya, who was released on bail, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder with extreme indifference and two counts of aggravated assault — one for serious injury and the other for the use of a dangerous instrument, specifically her vehicle.

She also faces one count of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or vapors and one count of extreme impaired driving having had a blood/alcohol level of .15 or more.

On Aug. 15, 2011, shortly after 4:30 p.m., law enforcement officers from both Arizona and California responded to a two-vehicle traffic collision on Interstate 10 near the California/Arizona state line.

The crash involved a red Nissan minivan and a silver Toyota SUV.

According to media reports published in Arizona at the time of the crash, the Toyota, driven by Loya, was driving westbound on the interstate when it collided with the minivan.

Prosecutors allege Loya had almost reached the state line near Blythe when the collision occurred.

Two children, passengers in the minivan, died in the crash — one at the scene and the other a short time later at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Two minivan’s driver, identified as Nancy Faustino, then 66, was flown to Desert Regional Hospital in Palm Springs and was admitted with serious injuries, according to the same Arizona media reports.

Loya was treated for minor injuries and released from La Paz Regional Hospital.

She was later arrested and booked into the La Paz County Jail with bail set at $100,000, court papers show.

According to La Paz County Court documents, investigators were issued a search warrant in connection with the Loya case a week after the crash and, four days later, they returned to court with their findings.

On Aug. 25, 2011, Loya was released from custody after she posted bond, court papers show.

According to Arizona law, an unintentional death may constitute murder when the conduct of the defendant manifests “extreme indifference” to the value of human life.

Loya’s trial is expected to last about three weeks.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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