Truck Driver Charged With 2 Counts Of Murder Pleads “Not Guilty”
Santa Maria, California – A truck driver police said was impaired when he caused a crash resulting in the deaths of two motorists earlier this year has been formally charged with two counts of murder.
According to court records, truck driver Gil Patrick Pena, 56, of Santa Maria, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to two counts of murder stemming from a crash on February 7, 2019 along Highway 135 near Orcutt.
Investigators said Pena, who was operating a commercial big rig for Sysco Foods, failed to stop near the intersection of Highway 135 and Union Valley Parkway in the early morning hours.
The tractor-trailer plowed into numerous vehicles resulting in the deaths of Rick Jay Motley, 60, of Orcutt, and Jesse Gluyas, 24, of Solvang.
Police arrested Pena at the scene on suspicion of DUI.
Prosecutors said Pena was determined to have been impaired and under the influence of both drugs and alcohol at the time of the crash.
In May, the family of Rick Jay Motley filed a civil lawsuit alleging wrongful death and negligence against Sysco and Pena.
The suit named Motley’s widow Mary, and children, James and Jared, as plaintiffs.
The complaint alleges that Pena failed to apply the truck’s brakes and was driving at excessive and unsafe speed at the time of the crash.
Further, the suit argues Sysco should have been aware that Pena had a prior history of speeding, cell phone use, red light violations, and coasting in neutral on a downgrade.
It also claims the crash and Motley’s death deprived the family of love, companionship, care, comfort and future earnings.
The plaintiffs are seeking special, general and exemplary damages along with funeral and burial expenses, according to court documents.
As for Pena, he will appear in court again on July 1.
His bail is set at $2 million.