A 25-year-old man with a reputation for speeding was flooring it when he T-boned a car, killing a grandmother and her 2-year-old granddaughter in Irvine, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday, while the defense contended it was just a traffic accident.
Alec Scott Abraham is charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the June 10, 2015, crash that killed 54-year-old Katherine Hampton of Lake Forest and her granddaughter, Kaydence Hampton. Kaydence's mother, Megan, suffered a broken jaw, and Kaydence's brother, Nathaniel, who was 7 at the time, suffered a broken collarbone.
"The defendant had been warned about his driving," Senior Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky said in her opening statement.
On Jan. 3, 2015, a state parks police officer pulled Abraham for speeding on Pacific Coast Highway, Bokosky said.
Abraham's co-workers at a Toyota dealership in Huntington Beach also warned him about "driving recklessly and fast" at work and across the street
at a Starbucks store, Bokosky said.
"All of them will tell you he drove fast and recklessly,'' Bokosky said.
Abraham would record videos of his speeding and send them to service technicians and fellow sales representatives, Bokosky said.
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In November 2015, Abraham took a selfie video in a Ford Mustang and sent it via text to a group of coworkers, the prosecutor said. Bokosky showed the video to jurors on Thursday.
It "shows the defendant maxing out the Mustang," as he got it up to 140 mph, Bokosky said.
"These employees told him to stop driving like an idiot" on a text chain with one saying they forwarded the video to the California Highway Patrol, Bokosky said.
Abraham was driving a Mustang downhill on Alton Parkway when he swerved into a left-turn lane around idling traffic at a red light and slammed into a Chevrolet Cruze driven by Katherine Hampton at Barranca Parkway, Bokosky said.
"All of the other vehicles had time to stop... except for the defendant," he said.
Abraham got out of the Mustang after the crash and checked on the victims, Bokosky said. A witness said she saw Abraham "put his hands on his head and walked away," he said.
Another motorist at the scene of the crash is expected to testify that Abraham asked to borrow his phone and then fled, he said.
An Event Data Recorder in the Mustang showed Abraham was going at least 75 mph when he slammed into the car, he said.
"The EDR showed he was accelerating at 100%. That means he had his foot to the floor at the moment of impact," Bokosky said.
Abraham called his father to pick him up, and was arrested a day later in Costa Mesa, Bokosky said.
Abraham shook his head at times during his attorney's opening statement. His attorney, Eric Mayeda Renslo, claimed there was no evidence that traffic on Barranca had a green light.
He said the intersection is confusing and there was construction in the area, so Abraham tried to correct himself and get back in the right lane after going around traffic in the left-turn pocket.
"It's very weird the way it was designed," Renslo said.
Abraham was helping his parents move and was "unfamiliar" with the area, Renslo said.
"He was confused and all of a sudden, he sees these headlights and thinks, 'Oh, crap,'" Renslo said.
Abraham was trying to get help for the victims at the scene and grew "afraid" and left, he said, adding that when his client was arrested, he had intended to turn himself in.
"That's basically what this is — it's a traffic accident," Renslo said.
He said Abraham's co-workers are "disgruntled employees" and that his client has no record prior to the crash.
"He doesn't even have any minor accidents or collisions," Renslo said.
"This went from having no record at all to murder for a traffic accident," the attorney said.
Last April, a jury indicated they would convict Abraham of second- degree murder, but one member did an about-face at the last moment, prompting a judge to declare a mistrial.