A driver accused of causing a 2015 crash that killed a woman and her granddaughter in Irvine is once again on trial for second-degree murder, less than a year after a juror prompted a mistrial by changing her mind from a guilty verdict.
Alec Scott Abraham faces two counts of murder for the deaths of Katherine Hampton, 54, and Kaydence Hampton, 2, during a June 10, 2015 crash at Alton and Barranca parkways that also left the girl’s mother and brother injured.
During opening statements Thursday at the Orange County Superior Courthouse in Santa Ana, Senior Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky told jurors that Abraham was racing another vehicle in his black Ford Mustang at more than 75 mph when he swerved into a left-turn lane to get around cars stopped for a red light, speeding into the intersection and T-boning the vehicle occupied by the Hamptons.
Bokosky said Abraham has a history of reckless driving, showing the jury what she said was a video Abraham took of himself driving his Mustang at speeds of up to 140 mph on a freeway; the video included a view of the odometer. Co-workers at a Huntington Beach car dealership Abraham worked at had admonished him about the video, as well as his habit of speeding through the business’s parking lot and nearby streets, the prosecutor added.
“The defendant consistently drove recklessly and fast,” Bokosky told jurors.
After the crash, Abraham checked on the occupants of the other car, borrowed another driver’s cellphone, called his father to pick him up and fled, leaving his car behind, Bokosky said.
Police arrested him the next day in his Costa Mesa neighborhood.
Eric Renslo, Abraham’s attorney, denied that his client was racing another car or driving recklessly, telling jurors that Abraham was confused by an “interesting” intersection. He said Abraham left the scene of the crash in fear after being confronted by a witness.
Renslo told jurors that there were no witnesses who could prove that the vehicle occupied by the Hamptons was driving through the intersection on a green light. The defense attorney also described the people who had complained about Abraham’s driving in the past as “disgruntled ex-employees,” comparing them to “online trolls.”
“It’s this crazy situation,” Renslo told jurors. “From having no record at all to being charged with murder for a traffic accident.”
Abraham, now 25, shook his head repeatedly during his attorney’s opening statements. During his earlier trial, Abraham testified against his previous attorney’s wishes, and repeatedly spoke out loud during court breaks when the judge, and at times the attorneys, were back in chambers.
In his previous trial, the jury came back with a guilty verdict after struggling for several days to reach agreement. But when Judge Cheri Pham carried out the routine task of individually polling the jury to confirm members’ votes, a juror responded that she had changed her mind.
Source: Orange County Register