Law School Student Convicted of Vehicular Murder

Law School Student Convicted of Vehicular Murder

Police tape at a crime scene in Monterey Park, Calif., in a file photo. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

4/30/2024

Updated: 4/30/2024

SANTA ANA, Calif.—A law school student was convicted April 29 of a drunken driving crash in Yorba Linda that killed another driver.
Richard Curtis Lindwall, 34, was convicted of second-degree murder for the Aug. 3, 2017, crash that killed 41-year-old Carlos M. Mendez.
The crash occurred about 8:15 p.m. on La Palma Avenue at Gypsum Canyon Road.
Mr. Lindwall was driving home to Yorba Linda from his girlfriend’s home in Riverside in a 2013 Hyundai Equus luxury sedan when he crashed into Mr. Mendez’s 2004 Scion xB subcompact as the victim was headed home from work, according to a trial brief from prosecutors.
Mr. Mendez made a left turn on eastbound La Palma Avenue when Mr. Lindwall “sped around a curve in the road and collided head-on with [the victim’s] Scion,” prosecutors said.
Mr. Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene and Mr. Lindwall, who had to be freed from his car, was rushed to a hospital where his blood-alcohol content was about .30 percent, nearly four times the legal limit, prosecutors said. He also had prescription drugs Zolpidem and Hydrocodone in his blood, prosecutors said.
The Event Data Recorder in the Hyundai showed Mr. Lindwall was going 92.5 mph just before the crash. The speed limit on La Palma Avenue is 50 mph.
On Feb. 27, 2011, in Tempe, Arizona Mr. Lindwall was involved in another alcohol-fueled crash in which his girlfriend was seriously injured, prosecutors said.
In the Arizona crash, Mr. Lindwall was driving home from a party with his girlfriend in a Ford Mustang that hit a curb going 80 mph in a 35 mph zone, catapulting the car into the car until it landed upside down, prosecutors said.
Mr. Lindwall had a .17 percent blood-alcohol content about an hour following that crash, prosecutors said. He was convicted in Maricopa County, Arizona, and sentenced to a year in jail that was served in Anaheim, prosecutors said.
When Mr. Lindwall finished that jail term he applied to the Pepperdine School of Law, but was required to explain the criminal conviction, prosecutors said.
“He explained the consequences the Arizona incident had on his life, from his time incarcerated to personally, socially, physically, emotionally and academically,” prosecutors said.
In the application he wrote, “The loudest lesson conveyed by my experiences echoes of how nearly a poor decision can, in an instant, ruin a life.”
Mr. Lindwall was in his third and final year of law school when he got into the deadly crash in Yorba Linda.
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