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No word from Costa jury

After nearly a week of deliberations, the panel has not announced a verdict.

July 27, 2011|By Daniel Siegal

After nearly a week of deliberations, the jury in the murder case against Marcos Costa, the driver of a brakeless big rig that killed two people in La Cañada in April 2009, retired Wednesday without announcing a verdict.

Costa, a Portuguese-speaking Brazilian truck driver who hails from Massachusetts, has testified throughout the five-week trial through a translator that he did everything he could to stop his 25-ton truck after its brakes failed on April 1, 2009 while headed westbound on Angeles Crest Highway. Angel “Jorge” Posca and his 12-year-old daughter Angelina suffered fatal injuries after Costa’s runaway rig plowed into their car as they exited the 210 Freeway. The truck then continued to Foothill Boulevard, striking more vehicles and injuring several others before crashing into the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse.

Deputy District Atty. Carolina Lugo has argued the prosecution’s position that Costa is guilty of two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and three counts of reckless driving.

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Much of the case has hinged on the testimony of firefighter Juan Palomino, who was off-duty when he flagged down Costa and his co-driver, Juan Soares, on Angeles Forest Highway and told Costa that his truck’s brakes were smoking. Palomino said he told Costa that he should turn his truck around and instead take the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway to reach the Los Angeles area.

Palomino also testified he told Costa about a tunnel further down Angeles Forest Highway that the truck would be unable to enter and suggested taking Big Tujunga Road to the Angeles Crest Highway as an alternate route. He also drew a map for Costa.

Costa testified that he was unable to comprehend all of what Palomino had told him, but followed the map Palomino gave him.

Lugo argued that Costa intentionally ignored Palomino’s warnings. “This is a man without patience … and he didn’t have the patience to wait for the brakes to cool,” Lugo said.

“When he stopped at the snow gate [at the La Cañada Flintridge city border] with smoke billowing from the truck and chose to go forward, that was his conscious decision … to disregard human life,” she added.

Edward Murphy, Costa’s defense attorney, said after closing arguments June 20 that he expected a verdict sometime this week.

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