Drunk U-Haul Driver Gets Life Sentence in Deadly Crash

A La Habra man was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison for driving drunk in a U-Haul rental truck and causing a wrong-way crash that killed one of his former high school classmates nearly seven years ago.

Dustin David Lish, 26, was convicted last October of second-degree murder for the Nov. 19, 2011, crash in La Habra that killed 20-year-old Joseph Quezada.

Deputy District Attorney Daniel Feldman told jurors that Lish -- who worked for U-Haul at the time of the crash -- should be found guilty of second-degree murder because his boss, who let him use the truck, and the defendant's father warned him not to drink and drive.

Defense attorney Jeff Kent unsuccessfully argued that since such a small fraction of drunken drivers cause fatal accidents, his client could not be found guilty of murder under the implied malice legal theory.

"They shouldn't be filing these types of cases (as murder)," Kent said after the conviction. "It's a manslaughter, not a murder. It was overfiled."

He said Lish was given a choice from his boss between alcohol or $30 as a bonus at his job. Lish and his friends drank the alcohol at his home, and then he got a ride from his sister to the U-Haul facility in La Habra where he worked to see a co-worker, and then they got the idea to rent a truck for one of his friends, the defense attorney said.

According to the prosecution, the boss who warned Lish not to drive because he'd consumed alcohol wouldn't let him get behind the wheel, so he got into the passenger seat of the truck and his friend drove around the corner out of sight, where they switched places.

Lish was speeding in the truck when he veered into oncoming traffic and sideswiped a Nissan SUV about 5:40 p.m., according to authorities. He kept on speeding down the road and again veered into oncoming traffic, this time slamming into Quezada's Hyundai Accent.

Lish and his friend ran away, but were found hiding in a vehicle storage yard about 200 feet away. His blood alcohol level three hours after the crash was .16, which is triple the legal limit for drivers younger than 21,prosecutors said.

Lish has been in custody since he was charged in March 2012.

"He's a good kid who never was in trouble before," Kent said.

Lish spent about six months in an alcohol rehabilitation facility following the crash, his attorney said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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