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The Madera Tribune

Life sentence in DUI deaths

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webmaster | 01/25/14

A Ventura man, convicted of nine criminal counts after a 2009 crash while intoxicated, was sentenced Friday to 96 years to life inside Madera Superior Court. The collision killed three Chukchansi casino workers.

Justin Eugene Rice, 36, was convicted in 2014 for crimes related to events on Aug. 20, 2009. Authorities said Rice was behind the wheel of his truck while traveling south on State Route 41 that day. He was drunk and — as shown through toxicology tests — high on methamphetamine as he sped and swerved all over the road.

Evidence presented at Rice’s six-week trial showed he entered the northbound lane, which forced oncoming vehicles to swerve and avoid collisions.

One vehicle, carrying five Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino employees, was unable to get out of the way in time and collided with Rice head on. Elena Mendoza, Maria Rodriguez, and Estella Frias were killed. Two other passengers were injured...


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