A 34-year-old twice-convicted drunken driver was behind bars Monday on charges stemming from an alcohol-fueled multiple-vehicle crash in Laguna Beach nearly eight years ago that killed one man and injured several others.
Francisco Acuna Sanchez, formerly of Rancho Santa Margarita, was extradited from Panama and Laguna Beach police served a warrant on the defendant last Wednesday, according to court records.
Sanchez was charged in July 2016 with murder, two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs causing injury and a count of driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit causing injury, with sentencing enhancement allegations of inflicting great bodily injury on two victims who survived.
The prior DUIs allow prosecutors to upgrade charges in a fatal crash from manslaughter, which includes a finite time in prison, to murder, which carries at least 15 years to life behind bars.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol April 20, 2010, and again on May 30, 2012, according to court records.
The fatal crash occurred about 1:30 p.m. Jan. 26, 2014, on Pacific Coast Highway near Irvine Cove Drive, police said.
Erik Valencia, who was 29 and lived in Irvine, was killed in the crash. He was a passenger in one of the cars involved.
Police said there were five victims in the crash, but the criminal complaint includes two victims who allegedly sustained serious injuries.