Palm Desert, CA
A man accused of causing a Palm Desert crash that killed his infant daughter must stand trial on second-degree murder and child endangerment charges, a judge ruled Friday.
Marcus Green, 52, of Thermal, was behind the wheel of a Porsche that struck a metal guardrail and tumbled down an embankment about 200 feet off state Route 74.
The May 1, 2016, crash killed his 5-month-old daughter, Armani, who was riding unrestrained in the sports car, and seriously injured the baby’s mother, 23-year-old Kristen Lauer of Rancho Mirage.
The baby, who was not strapped into a car seat, was ejected from the Porsche and thrown about 90 feet from the car, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Both Green and Lauer were seriously injured and taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. Green was released from the hospital and arrested four days after the crash.
Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao alleged that the baby was sitting on Lauer’s lap because the car had racing modifications that prevented use of the backseats.
Green “placed (Armani) in extreme danger” by allowing the infant to ride unrestrained, while driving “on one of the most dangerous roads that we have here in the desert, state Route 74,” Paixao said.
“The two people who survived this accident, Your Honor, are the two people that had seatbelts on,” the prosecutor said. “They ensured their own safety by putting those seatbelts on and did not offer the same safety, the same dignity, for their own child.”
Lauer was also recently charged with murder and child endangerment, but has yet to be taken into custody due to ongoing medical issues stemming from the crash.
Defense attorney David Greenberg argued that the evidence did not rise to the level of a murder charge, and that prosecutors had not shown Green exhibited a conscious disregard for his daughter’s safety.
Green emphasized that intoxication played no role in the crash, and argued that the case warranted, at most, an involuntary manslaughter charge.
“There is no one suffering more in this courtroom over what happened that day than Mr. Green,” Greenberg said. “He is and will be punished every day of his life for the choices he made, dealing with the death of his own daughter. But it is not what murder was created for. It is not an intent to kill and it is not a conscious disregard for human life.”
Though it is uncertain how fast Green was driving when the crash occurred, Paixao contended that the defendant was going in excess of the 30 mph speed limit in the area where the crash occurred.
Thomas Carlson, a forensic mechanic with the California Highway Patrol, testified that the car had no significant mechanical issues that could have contributed to the crash, though he did say that the right rear tire was leaking. Greenberg pressed on that point, but Carlson said the leak was not significant enough to cause the wreck.
Green, who’s being held in lieu $1.86 million bail, will return to court June 14 for a post-preliminary hearing arraignment.