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Suspected DUI driver on trial for murder in deaths of father, son

April 09, 2013|By Kate Mather
  • Rafael Lopez
Rafael Lopez (Orange County district…)

Opening statements were set to begin Wednesday in the trial of a 20-year-old man accused of killing a Buena Park father and son while driving drunk in 2010.

Rafael Lopez of Anaheim faces felony murder charges in the Dec. 18, 2010, crash, the Orange County district attorney's office said. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 30 years to life in state prison.

Lopez was 18 when he allegedly ran a red light on Buena Park's Crescent Avenue and crashed into a Buick driven by Steven Uselton, 44, prosecutors said. Uselton's 17-year-old son, Douglas, was in the passenger seat; authorities said the two were headed to an early morning high school debate tournament.

Upon being struck, the Useltons' car traveled more than 130 feet before coming to a stop, prosecutors said. The father and son were pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors allege that Lopez drove his Mitsubishi nearly 80 mph in a 45 mph zone, failed to brake before hitting the other vehicle and had a 0.13 blood-alcohol level. He is accused of killing the Useltons by "causing multiple blunt force injuries and internal bleeding," the district attorney's office said.

Lopez was treated at a hospital for minor injuries before his arrest.

Steven Uselton was a longtime employee of CalRecycle, a state recycling and waste management program. Douglas Uselton was a senior at Oxford Academy, where he also played baseball and basketball.


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