A Fillmore man who intentionally rammed another car with his own, triggering a crash that left the other driver dead in an attempt to kill his own passenger, received a sentence of 34 years to life in state prison on Wednesday, authorities said.
Eduardo Robles, 31, was convicted in October of first-degree murder and attempted murder for the May 31 vehicular attack on the two men, the Ventura County District Attorneys’ Office said in a written statement.
Benjamin Brown, 28, of Oxnard was killed in the attack on Highway 126 , authorities said. A passenger in Robles car, identified as Jose Gaspar, suffered serious injuries.
Investigators determined the crash was not an accident.
“Robles was driving his vehicle on Highway 126 when he intentionally rammed the car in front of him, which was being driven by Mr. Brown, in a premeditated attempt to kill his passenger, Mr. Gaspar,” according to the District Attorney’s Office statement.
The specific motive for the vehicular attack remained uncertain, even following the trial, Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Ted Andrews said.
Prior to the intentional crash, “(Robles) had made that threat to Gaspar in what seemed like a joke,” the prosecutor said. Just before accelerating his Honda Accord and slamming into Brown’s car, Robles made a statement to the effect of: “”You’re going to die. I’m going to die. We’re going to die together,” Andrews said. “Ultimately, it’s chilling.”
“He used the Honda Accord to ram into the back of Benny Brown’s car, ultimately forcing it into oncoming lanes,” according to Andrews.
The impact sent Brown’s car careening across traffic lines and crash into a big rig, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department officials said. Brown died at the scene of the crash.
The big rig driver, as well as Gaspar, were hurt in the crash.
Robles and Gaspar had been acquaintances or friends for several weeks or months prior to the crash, Andrews said.
Robles had made some kind of statement about believing Gaspar was a police officer, but it was unclear if that factored into the intentional crash, he said.
The men had dropped of some women at a high school in Santa Paula and were on their way to pick them up at the time of the crash, according to Andrews. Robles had alcohol, cocaine and marijuana in his system.
During the trial, which lasted several weeks, jurors heard testimony including witness accounts of “Robles’ own statements about his intent to kill using a vehicle,” the District Attorney’s Office statement said.
Considering the crash took place in the middle of the afternoon, Andrews said more people easily could have been hurt or killed by Robles’ actions.
“It was an explosive crash,” he said.