April 23, 2014 by
A San Bernardino judge ordered a man to stand trial on murder charges Wednesday in a DUI crash that killed a woman and two Riverside teens going to church in Colton.
Police officers testified during a preliminary hearing Wednesday that Michael Dwayne Hughes, 31, of Moreno Valley, was driving with a blood alcohol level of nearly twice the legal limit.
Hughes had said in an interview with police that he was driving home after work, but police said they smelled alcohol on his breath. He failed several field sobriety tests and blew .10 on a Breathalyzer. A blood technician said his blood tested at .14.
The Jan. 18, 2013, crash killed Le Mason, 56, her granddaughter Kylan Allen, 12, and Haven Penman, 13, who were going to a dance at the Sandals Church in Colton. Both girls were students at the Woodcrest Christian School in Riverside.
Nine months after the crash, prosecutors charged Hughes with eight felonies, including three counts of murder. He is being held in lieu of $3 million bail.
The families of the victims sat in court Wednesday wearing T-shirts with pictures of the two girls. Haven’s mother broke down sobbing as the judge ordered Hughes to stand trial on all charges.
He had faced second-degree murder charges because of a previous DUI conviction in Orange County He had also signed a waiver acknowledging that drunken driving could kill others, according to court records.
Just before 7:30 p.m. the night of the Inland crash, Hughes had a suspended license when he was driving his Mercury Sable down Main Street in Colton near the Riverside County line while Mason was in the process of making a left turn in her PT Cruiser.
Hughes was estimated to be driving at 63 mph when he “dynamited the brakes” and skidded about 65 feet before broadsiding the PT Cruiser, California Highway Patrol Officer Donald Finn said.
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