14-year-old convicted for joyride that led to deadly Woodland crash; but not on murder charges

A Yolo Superior Court judge on Thursday convicted a 14-year-old boy for a fiery Woodland wreck last year that killed a woman and her granddaughter and critically injured two of their relatives.

Prosecutors have alleged the teen defendant, who was 13 at the time, stole his family’s sport utility vehicle for a joyride and led police officers in a chase before the SUV crashed into the car carrying Tina Vital, 43, and Adalina Lilah Perez, 4. The SUV also crashed into a second vehicle.

Judge Paul Richardson — after hearing evidence in the teen’s trial — sustained all but the two murder charges against the defendant, according to the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office. California juvenile trials do not go before a jury; a judge determines whether young defendants did what they’re accused of.

Authorities have not released the boy’s name because he is a minor. Chief Deputy District Attorney Melinda Aiello said the teen faces a maximum sentence of being a ward of the court until he is 21 years old. The teen will return to court for a disposition hearing on May 23 and 24 to determine his punishment; the judge will decide if he will be held in a detention facility.

Aiello said the boy was convicted of two counts of vehicular manslaughter, two counts of evading a police officer causing death, three counts of evading an officer and causing injury, evading a peace officer while driving recklessly, evading a peace officer while driving in the opposite direction, child endangerment, vehicle theft and driving without a license.

His charges included numerous enhancements for causing great bodily injury in the crash, Aiello said.

The crash occurred in the afternoon of April 8, 2023, at the intersection of Court and College streets, according to the Woodland Police Department.

A total of 11 people were injured in the three-vehicle crash, including the underage driver, authorities said. Four people rode in one of the vehicles. Six others were in the second car. The force of the collision left the cars stacked atop one another.

Perez, the 4-year-old girl, died at a hospital four days after the crash; her grandmother was pronounced dead at the scene.

“As of right now, I don’t feel that (we got justice), until we know what his punishment will be,” Victor Ramirez, Vital’s brother, told the Davis Enterprise, which first reported the trial’s verdict.