Man faces 12 years in DUI deaths

By Victor A. Patton / vpatton@mercedsun-star.comNovember 3, 2012 

A 68-year-old San Jose man who killed two women in a DUI crash on Highway 152 this month is facing 12 years in prison, after pleading no contest to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter on Friday.

Prosecutors say Ali Farsad killed Sara Castro, 30, and Alicia Carranca, 35, as he was driving the wrong way on eastbound Highway 152, west of Highway 33. His 2002 Ford Explorer crashed head-on into the Ford F-150 the victims were passengers in, CHP said.

The decision by Farsad to plead no contest wasn't an agreement reached with prosecutors.

Deputy Public Defender Todd McLean, Farsad's attorney, confirmed that prosecutors were exploring murder charges against his client -- which could have resulted in a life sentence, if he were convicted.

Rather than wait for prosecutors to file those amended charges, Farsad pleaded to the vehicular manslaughter charges.

"That was definitely a huge factor here," McLean said, adding that the prosecution had offered no deals in the case.

Deputy District Attorney Travis Colby said Farsad had been under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash. The defendant had a previous DUI conviction in June 2008.

Colby said he'll ask the judge to sentence Farsad to the maximum 12 years in prison. A judge has not been selected yet for the Jan. 18 sentencing hearing.

"Given his record, I think I would be remiss if I asked for anything less than the maximum," Colby said.

McLean said his client doesn't remember much about the crash, but has expressed a great deal of remorse for the deaths.

"He's been very sympathetic. He's broken down several times," McLean said.

In addition to the gross vehicular manslaughter counts, Farsad pleaded no contest to DUI, felony DUI causing injury, misdemeanor driving under the influence of a controlled substance and misdemeanor being under the influence of a controlled substance.

The crash was reported at 1:07 a.m. Oct. 9. According to the CHP, Farsad was driving the Ford Explorer west in the eastbound left lane of the highway. Meanwhile, Manual Herrera, 23, of San Jose was driving a 1997 Ford F-150 in the eastbound left lane of Highway 152, traveling in the correct direction.

He had three passengers, among whom were Castro and Carranca. The Explorer and the F-150 collided head-on.

Castro, who was the right front passenger in Herrera's vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. Carranca, who was in the back seat of Herrera's vehicle, was flown to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto and later pronounced dead, according to the CHP.

The third passenger in Herrera's vehicle, 23-year-old Maria Can, was flown to Memorial Medical Center with major injuries.

Farsad suffered minor cuts, and Herrera suffered a cut to his forehead as well as pain in his right arm and hand.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsunstar.com.

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