2014 Series PART TWO: Everybody Loved Raymond
April 14th, 2014 Everybody Loved Raymond
© 2014 By Peter Lance pdf of printed edition
It was 6:23 a.m. on Dec. 5, 2013. Raymond Victor Morua III woke up in the apartment he shared with his fiancé, Teresa Montoya, on De la Vina Street in Santa Barbara and used his iPhone 4 to find the story he was looking for on the Santa Barbara Independent’s website.
Before running out for the hard copy of the weekly and while still in bed with a blanket pulled up around him, Mr. Morua texted Ms. Montoya – already at work – with a link to the online story and this comment: “It’s my … greatest article … I look outstanding.”
Under the headline “Supes Force Veterans Truce,” Mr. Morua was cited twice in a story on the raging controversy between older and younger vets on the best use for the Veterans Memorial Building on Cabrillo Boulevard. The piece described how 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf had read a letter from Mr. Morua at the previous Board of Supervisors meeting, noting that he was an Iraq War veteran who was a nonvoting member on the Veterans Coordinating Council.
He was also a district representative and the point-man on veterans issues for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. His advocacy for veterans rights wasn’t just Mr. Morua’s paying job as an employee of the U.S. House of Representatives: it was his personal mission.
But at 32, he was also a man with a troubled past. He didn’t know it yet, but Dec. 5 would prove to be his last full day as a free man for many years to come.
Mr. Morua, whom his family called “Roc,” was a decorated Army E4 who served 38 months in the 35th Armored Regiment throughout Europe and Iraq. Since 2011 he’d become something of a local celebrity, appearing at dozens of functions with the congresswoman and in her absence. As recently as three weeks earlier, he’d carried his signature Captain America shield while walking alongside her in uniform during the Veterans Day Parade in Santa Barbara?
AN EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH JUDGE ESKIN
Mr. Morua enjoyed so much respect in the local official community that at 8:04 that morning he got an email from George Eskin, the recently retired Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge who had presided over Santa Barbara’s Veterans Treatment Court.
Judge Eskin, who took an oath Dec. 2 to return to the Superior Court as an “assigned judge,” was writing to ask Mr. Morua’s input on an email the judge had composed the day before and was trying to send to key players in the Santa Barbara Veterans Memorial Building controversy. In that Dec. 4 email, the judge wrote that although he was not a veteran himself, he was the son of an Army colonel and had lived in officers quarters at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. Calling himself an “Army ‘brat,’” the judge described Mr. Morua’s letter read by Mrs. Wolf as “superb” and “Roc” emailed back that he would see the judge for lunch.
George Eskin is married to state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat and ally of Lois Capps. He became close to Mr. Morua over veterans issues, and their friendship would take on huge importance in the next 24 hours following Mr. Morua’s alleged DUI hit-and-run at 12:04 a.m. Dec. 6 that left Mallory Rae Dies, 27, fighting for her life.
Now at 10:46 a.m. on Dec. 5, after he got to the Capps office on East Carrillo Street, Mr. Morua texted his fiancé that he was “Going to Independent Xmas party later with Chris.” He was referring to Chris Meagher, an ex-reporter for the Independent and former intern for Santa Barbara County Superior Court Chief Judge Brian Hill who had taken a job that past June as press secretary for Lois Capps.
Most of Mr. Morua’s professional day, in fact, would be spent at events sponsored by the Independent as he worked the media, local politicians and constituents on behalf of Mrs. Capps at two separate venues. By 11:54 a.m., he was texting Ms. Montoya from SOhO Restaurant and Music Club where the Independent’s 28th annual Local Heroes lunch was being held.
“At local hero lunch,” he texted. “Everyone giving me props for vet issue. I’m da man!”
After the event, Mr. Morua, who frequently texted selfies – self-portraits via cellphone – sent one to Ms. Montoya taken in the men’s room at SOhO. He also sent a selfie taken with Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo. In that picture, Mr. Morua can be seen wearing a self-adhesive name tag that states “Raymond M. Rep. Capps.”
“A district rep like Raymond Morua is always working,” says Russell Caso, former aide to ex-Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Curt Weldon. “From the moment you get up, even when you’re at home, you’re on the phone, on the Web, texting – constantly doing the business of the member of Congress you’re working for.”
He adds: “At a luncheon like this honoring ‘local heroes,’ you’re working the pols, you’re working the press. For all practical purposes, if the (member of Congress) isn’t there, you’re their presence. Having district reps like Raymond allows a Lois Capps to be in multiple places at once.”
Later that afternoon, Mr. Morua returned to the office and by 4:44 p.m. he was heading to Mrs. Capps’ home to bring her some files. After his conviction for two DUIs and a separate hit-and-run in 2006, Mr. Morua’s driver’s license had been suspended until January 2013. Now, with a 2007 Dodge Caliber that he’d financed in March, he was constantly on the road for Mrs. Capps. In fact, the U.S. House of Representatives reimbursed him for his mileage, adding an average $320 per month to his $36,000-per-year salary.
After leaving the Capps home, Mr. Morua drove to Paseo Nuevo where he parked and met Boris Palencia, a friend and fellow veteran, for dinner at Eureka. There he ordered ribs and two Four Roses bourbons on the rocks. After discussing the Veterans Memorial Building issue with Mr. Palencia, Mr. Morua got back into his vehicle and drove to the Ortega Street public parking garage.
Just after 7:03 p.m., he texted his fiancé that he was “with Chris” (Meagher) and on his way to the Independent’s invitation-only Christmas party dubbed the Holiday Bash.
INSISTING HE GOT THE INVITE FROM CAPPS STAFFER
In a sworn declaration, Mr. Morua stated that “on or about November 27th, 2013, I was in Representative Capps’ office and was told by Vianey Lopez that I was to attend a Christmas party on Dec. 5, 2013, at The Savoy, a club on State Street in Santa Barbara. This was a holiday celebration put on by the Independent news magazine … a private party for invited guests.”
Ms. Lopez is the scheduler for Mrs. Capps’ Santa Barbara and Washington, D.C., offices. The Calendar app on Mr. Morua’s iPhone 4 shows that he had originally intended to take Ms. Lopez with him as his guest. Scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PST on Dec. 5, the calendar entry says “Independent Holiday Bash. Attendees Lopez, Vianey and Morua, Raymond.” The entry included their House email addresses.
The invitations for that party, like the one at right, went out to a list of more than 650 advertisers, members of the media and prominent local figures from the academia, arts, nonprofit and business communities. The list included multiple police and fire officials, deputy district attorneys, the Santa Barbara mayor and City Council members, each of the county supervisors and Congresswoman Lois Capps. Each guest was requested to RSVP.
Nearly 60 invitees initially confirmed that they’d be attending. Among them: Roger Durling, Santa Barbara International Film Festival executive director; Doreen Farr, 3rd District county supervisor; Mrs. Wolf; and Raymond Morua, who advised online that he’d be coming with a guest.
In his sworn declaration Mr. Morua said that after receiving the invitation from Capps scheduler Ms. Lopez, he decided to invite professor Susan Derwin of UCSB as his “plus one.” Mr. Morua had worked with Ms. Derwin on UCSB’s Veterans Creative Writing Program. He noted “my selection (of a guest) did not need to be approved by anyone in Rep. Capps’ office.”
Indeed, he added that he’d attended the 2012 Independent Christmas party the year before as Mrs. Capps’ representative, accompanied by Trevor Zierhert, a fellow board member with Mr. Morua in Future Leaders of America, which provides Latino youth with leadership development skills.
“It’s important to consider,” says Mr. Morua’s lawyer, Darryl Genis, “that at no time from the 27th of November when he was handed the invitation, up to and including the party did anyone from Capps’ office or anywhere else suggest that he didn’t have a right to be there or that he wasn’t officially representing the congresswoman at that event. That includes the staff of the Indy, who knew he was coming with a guest and Chris Meagher, his Capps office colleague, an alumnus of the Independent whom he met at the party.”
The exterior video camera from The Savoy shows Mr. Morua, still wearing the grey sweater and tie he’d worn at the SOhO event, walking south on State Street where he met Ms. Derwin just south of the night club’s entrance. He returned with her 44 seconds later and presented the invitation to an Independent official as they went inside at 7:09:53 p.m.
In response to questions posed by Mr. Genis, Ms. Derwin said that no one at the door, checking names, questioned Mr. Morua’s presence as they entered. The time code in the upper right corner of the video is off by one hour, since it wasn’t reset by The Savoy following the change to Pacific Standard Time in October 2013.
During the Holiday Bash, which ran from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the interior video cameras and a series of texts and stills sent from the event document Mr. Morua working the party and interacting with a host of officials, Orfalea Foundation staffers and members of the media.
He exchanged multiple texts that night with James Joyce, deputy district director for Sen. Jackson. On Nov. 5, when Congresswoman Capps attended a Santa Barbara City College veterans event where Mr. Morua was keynote speaker, Mr. Joyce spoke on behalf of Sen. Jackson who was absent.
At 9:22 p.m., Mr. Morua had his picture taken with Mr. Joyce. Ten minutes later, he was photographed with his arm around Erin Weber, who was working at the Orfalea Foundation and who previously worked as the scheduler for Lois Capps, the same job occupied by Vianey Lopez, whom Mr. Morua insists gave him the invitation to the Holiday Bash.
Since the death of Mallory Dies, Ms. Derwin appears to have shifted in her commitment to Mr. Morua. On Dec. 8, two days after Mallory was run down as she crossed Anacapa Street at Haley Street, she wrote a letter of support. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work closely with Raymond, and I am committed to supporting him in every way I can.”
Ms. Derwin also took the time to visit Mr. Morua twice in County Jail after his arrest, which came at the end of a high-speed pursuit in which he crashed his car on Cabrillo Boulevard near State Street, about a half-mile from where Mallory was hit, and was arrested.
Later she seemed more standoffish. On Dec. 27, she was asked via email to document Mr. Morua’s activities at the Holiday Bash, but she never responded.
The next day, Teresa Montoya, Mr. Morua’s fiancé, said she asked Ms. Derwin to confirm that Mr. Morua was working for the congresswoman at the Independent’s party – an issue critical to whether Mallory’s family can recover damages from the government. According to Ms. Montoya, Ms. Derwin told her that she “didn’t want to go on the record saying he was there on official business.”
On March 18, in response to a series of questions posed by Mr. Genis, when asked if she believed that Mr. Morua “was in the course and furtherance of his duties for Cong. Capps” at the party, Ms. Derwin replied in a single word: “No.”
THE INDEPENDENT’S ROLE IN THE STORY
The Holiday Bash ended officially at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 and though it included a “no-host” bar where guests paid for their own drinks, the issue of whether Mr. Morua was working for Mrs. Capps and consumed so much alcohol that he later committed manslaughter could present legal problems for the Independent. Under what is known as the “Dram Shop rule,” The Savoy can only be held liable for selling liquor to a minor who is obviously drunk and then commits a traffic violation. That’s not an issue here since Mr. Morua just turned 33.
“But the Indy may not be so protected,” says Mr. Genis, who settled a lawsuit with the newsweekly after they sued him for withdrawing a weekly ad in 2011. “And given her links to the Independent as well as the Capps Center at UCSB you have to wonder at this point where Ms. Derwin’s loyalties really lie.” (The Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life is named for the congresswoman’s late husband.)
Ms. Derwin is director of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at UCSB. In January, the IHC co-sponsored a series of dramatic veteran-related readings with the Capps Center. According to the IHC’s online website, a member of the IHC’s staff who works with Ms. Derwin is D.J. Palladino, a film critic who has been writing for the Independent for years.
“The loyalties surrounding this tragedy are extremely incestuous,” says Mr. Genis, “particularly when you consider that my client, Raymond Morua, was with Lois Capps’ press secretary, Chris Meagher, at the party. Chris clearly knew that Raymond was on the job, but as Capps’ spokesman, it’s Meagher who has to defend Lois Capps’ indefensible position that somehow Raymond was not only unauthorized to be at the Indy bash, but that he actually pocketed the invitation from a desk in Capps’ office.”
Despite repeated efforts to get a comment from Mr. Meager about this issue and a host of other evidence uncovered for this series regarding Mrs. Capps, he has not responded.
MR. MORUA CONTINUED TO WORK THE PARTY
As the Holiday Bash went on, Mr. Morua continued to have his photo taken with a variety of people. In one group photo, he’s with Shelby Sim, a veterans supporter with whom Mr. Morua interacted at multiple events; KEYT’s John Palminteri, who interviewed Mr. Morua as far back as 2011 when Mr. Morua was head of the UCSB Student Veterans Organization; and Catherine Remak , co-anchor with Gary Fruin of the “Gary and Catherine in the Morning Show” on KLITE 101.7 FM. (In a story with few degrees of separation, Mr. Fruin’s wife, Camille Cimini-Fruin, has worked as a client representative for the Independent for more than 20 years.) During a brief interview by phone, Ms. Remak said she left the party at about 8:30 p.m. and she believed that the picture was taken as she was on her way out the door.
At 8:39, Mr. Morua texted Ms. Montoya, “Everyone loving me … at the party.” While the event ended officially at 9:30 p.m., the evidence uncovered in this investigation proves that he stayed much longer. The picture with Ms. Weber was taken at 9:33 p.m. and he paid his bar tab of $90.44 using his Bank of America Visa card at 10:31 p.m. The receipt, which includes a $10 tip, documents that in addition to two Summerland Vineyards chardonnays, Mr. Morua bought a Giro tequila, five Hendricks vodkas and a Ketel One.
An exterior video shows Mr. Morua leaving The Savoy at 11:03 p.m. As he exits, Mr. Morua walks down a step and appears steady in his gait. In the video he immediately turns into the doorway of La Aroma de Havana Cigar Lounge located next door to The Savoy, at 411 State St.
CONFLICTING STORIES OF WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
According to Sam Atalah, co-owner of La Aroma who was working that night, “Raymond came in stumbling. Got his cigar and walked out. Didn’t even talk to any person. And I recall that because he walked in and I walked with him to the room (humidor) because I was afraid he might grab something, drop a box, break some cigars. So I went in with him. I grabbed the cigar he wanted. He paid for it and he walked away. He didn’t talk to anybody. He didn’t sit there. He just came in and out.”
But the Savoy video, which shows Mr. Morua walking up to La Aroma at 11:03 p.m. and the receipt that he received after charging $24.82 seems to dispute that account. Why? Because Mr. Morua’s Visa card was debited at 11:19:10 p.m. – more than 15 minutes after the video shows him heading toward the cigar lounge.
Further, Mr. Morua swears under oath that when he went into the lounge that night he ran into Paul Weakland, a former sea urchin diver who is very active at the Veterans Memorial Building. In fact, for several years, Mr. Weakland has been representing himself in a federal lawsuit seeking back-benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a series of interviews beginning Dec. 29, 2013, Mr. Weakland confirmed that he’d sought Mr. Morua’s help for his claim through Mrs. Capps’ office. Mr. Morua insists that after he left The Savoy he not only met Mr. Weakland at La Aroma but that he bought him a cigar (one of two he purchased) and that Mr. Weakland gave him a drink.
“Raymond told me that many of the customers who frequent that lounge bring in liquor in flasks so they can enjoy a scotch or two along with their cigar,” says attorney Mr. Genis. “He remembers having a drink with Mr. Weakland that night while they discussed his case.” Mr. Weakland insists that he never gave Mr. Morua any alcohol, but his memory of that fatal night is less precise. In a lengthy interview at Farmer Boy Restaurant in Santa Barbara, Mr. Weakland said, “I can’t say I was there, but I can’t say I wasn’t. I just don’t remember.”
Mr. Weakland produced several letters he’d sent to Mrs. Capps’ office and the replies he got regarding his legal case. He also confirmed that Mr. Morua tried to help him. In his sworn declaration, referring to Mr. Weakland, Mr. Morua writes, “The discussions that we were having were directly related to my job as field representative for Lois Capps.”
“What’s important about that meeting,” says Robert Stoll, attorney for the family of Mallory Dies, “is that it suggests that even beyond the Independent’s Christmas party, Raymond is continuing to do what he does day in and day out – work for Lois Capps. Clearly this man (Mr. Weakland) is a fellow veteran and a constituent and the receipt from La Aroma de Havana proves that Morua was there as late as 11:19 p.m., which is just 45 minutes before he struck Mallory Dies outside EOS Lounge on Anacapa.”
A SERIES OF TEXTS WITH HIS BOSS
While his meeting with Mr. Weakland may be subject to dispute, one thing is clear. The AT&T bill for Morua’s personal cellphone, which he had with him that night, proves that starting at 11:14 p.m. and continuing through the moment he paid his bill at the cigar lounge, he was texting with his immediate supervisor, Mollie Culver, Mrs. Capps’ district director.
The phone bill sent to his former address in Ventura shows that on the night of Dec. 5, Mr. Morua received two texts from Ms. Culver, whose cellphone number is 805-550-9300. He then returned two texts and she sent him two more.
A download from that phone shows the following exchange and times between Mr. Morua and Ms. Culver who was standing in her parking lot in Santa Barbara watching the launch of a missile containing a spy satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base:
CULVER: Rocket taking off in 30 secs. (11:14:38 p.m.)
CULVER: From Vandenberg (11:14:45 p.m.)
MORUA: I know (11:18:30 p.m.)
MORUA: Not big deal (11:18:51 p.m.)
CULVER: I like watching (1:19:19 p.m.)
CULVER: From my parking lot (11:19:46 p.m.)
According to an online report of the mission in which a NROL-39 satellite was carried atop an Atlas V rocket, the launch window opened at 11:13 p.m. just before Ms. Culver started texting.
“Think about that exchange in the context of whether Raymond Morua was on the job at that time of the night,” says Dies family attorney Robert Stoll. “He was about to pay for some cigars he’d bought after admittedly meeting with a veteran and constituent Paul Weakland whose case he championed in Lois Capps’ office. Now here was his own boss texting him about a government rocket launch. Clearly she still thought he was working at that time.”
MS. CULVER’S ABOUT-FACE AFTER MALLORY’S DEATH
On Dec. 13, two days after Mallory Dies was removed from life support and Lois Capps’ staff adopted the position that Mr. Morua was unauthorized to be at the Independent’s Christmas party, Mollie Culver was interviewed by Detective JayCee Hunter of the Santa Barbara Police Department following his execution of a search warrant on Mrs. Capps’ Santa Barbara office.
In a report memorializing that interview, Detective Hunter writes, “Culver denies that the suspect was representing Representative Lois Capps at the holiday Independent party … which the suspect attended on the night this fatal collision occurred.”
“Culver speculated that Representative Capps must have received the post card invite for the Independent holiday party in the mail and that the suspect must have taken it upon himself to retrieve the invite card … and later used it to gain access into the party.”
In that same interview, Ms. Culver reportedly told Detective Hunter that “it isn’t Rep. Capps’ pattern and practice to officially send a representative to attend an event such as the Independent holiday party because it was being held at a drinking establishment and the expectation would have been that there would have been people drinking alcohol which is the type of location and activity which doesn’t fit into Representative Capps’ concept of an event in which she needs to be represented as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
ALCOHOL AND POLITICS
The idea that Congresswoman Capps might not be partial to events where alcohol is served may have had some genesis in the way her husband’s political career was launched. As fate and irony would have it, when Walter H. Capps was in the middle of his first successful bid for office he owed his victory, in part, to a drunken driver.
In 1994, Mr. Capps lost his initial bid for the House to Andrea Seastrand, a first-time Republican conservative who swept into Congress as part of the “Republican Revolution” led by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Two years later, trying to unseat her, Mr. Capps was the lucky beneficiary of what the San Francisco Chronicle called “a steady stream of local media coverage any politician would envy.”
That was because on May 23rd of that year, the Lincoln Town Car carrying Mr. Capps, then 62, and his wife, Lois, was struck head-on by a driver who was intoxicated. After recovering from a series of fractures and internal injuries, Mr. Capps appeared in a wheelchair outside Santa Barbara Rehabilitation Institute at a press conferences covered by six newspapers, three TV outlets and a radio station. He delivered an emotional speech, comforted by his wife, who had sustained cuts and bruises in the crash herself. “I would never wish for a car accident like this,” he said. “But I have learned from it. … Love and caring for one another (are) at the core of what links us.” Taking advantage of what the Chronicle called the “sympathy” engendered by that DUI crash, Walter Capps went on to defeat Mrs. Seastrand in what would be the beginning of a political dynasty; because after he died of a heart attack 10 months into his first term, his wife succeeded him and she’s been in office continually since 1998.
“But this story from Mollie Culver that Lois never went to events where alcohol was served is completely untrue,” says Teresa Montoya, Raymond Morua’s fiancé. “Not only did Mollie encourage Raymond to drink, but many of the events he took Lois to were sponsored by constituents who made wine, or served alcohol.”
An exchange of text messages between Ms. Culver and Mr. Morua leading up to Halloween 2013 seems to corroborate that first point. Apparently Ms. Culver was planning a Halloween party at her home and she asked Mr. Morua to help her with a shopping list for drinks.
On Oct. 21 he texted her: ” Booze for Friday. Kettle One Vodka. We can mix it with tonic or raspberry juice. Hennessy and Apple Juice. I even (tried) it in Amsterdam at a live porno show. We can probably get some JD (Jack Daniels) and some coke for the people who want to play it safe.” Less than a minute later, Ms. Culver texted back: “Sweet!! Love it!”
As to events Mr. Morua attended on Mrs. Capps’ behalf where alcohol was served, one picture shows him with actor-singer Jeff Bridges at an event for No Child Hungry, a worthy charity that Mr. Bridges supports and Mrs. Capps singled out for praise at a panel discussion in May 2013. In that shot, Mr. Morua is holding a glass of white wine. In a text sent from his office iPhone on Dec. 18, 2012, Mr. Morua not only openly discussed his drinking but seemed to revel in his access to celebrities like Mr. Bridges.
“You know what’s better than drinking with Jeff Bridges?” he wrote. “Being at a conference table with him and kicking ass as a congressional district rep in front of him.”
Because so many of her constituents are in the wine industry, Mrs. Capps regularly attends events which include wine tastings. In July, Mr. Morua accompanied her on a tour of the area of Lompoc known as “The Wine Ghetto” where there are 19 separate tasting rooms. Mrs. Capps even issued a press release in which she reported, “I visited with both J. Lohr Winery in Paso Robles and the growing Lompoc Wine Ghetto, two important players in the wine industry that is so critical to our regional economic development.”
As to alcohol as a fundraising tool, Mrs. Wolf, the 2nd District supervisor who attended the Independent’s Christmas party, threw a Capps fundraiser at her home on March 16, 2012, in which the level of sponsorship was based on a cocktail theme.
Dubbed the “Cappsatini cocktail party,” the invitation cited the names of various sponsors. The largest contributors dubbed the “Cappsatini Sponsors,” included philanthropist Leni Fe Bland, and filmmakers Victoria Riskin and David W. Rintels.
The “Cosmopolitan Sponsors” included 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and former Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Iya Falcone, who pleaded no contest the following October following a daytime DUI crash in the Lazy Acres parking lot. One of two reporters who covered that story for the Independent was Chris Meagher, now Mrs. Capps’ press secretary.
At the time of Ms. Falcone’s sentencing, Mr. Meagher quoted Deputy District Attorney Gary Gemberling as saying that her blood alcohol level readings of .23 and .24 “were enough to warrant a 15-day jail sentence.” Instead, Ms. Falcone, who ran for mayor in 2009, was sentenced to attend twice-weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, give four public lectures on the dangers of driving under the influence and pay a $2,356 fine.
Perhaps the most powerful evidence that drinking is far from prohibited by Mrs. Capps’ staff is another selfie Mr. Morua took while sitting at his office desk. In it, he’s seen holding a Pacifico beer inside a cooling sleeve labeled United States House of Representatives.
“The notion that Lois Capps forbids her staff from attending events where alcohol is served is patently absurd,” says Mr. Stoll, attorney for the Dies family. “All of this is just part of the hypocrisy that ensued the minute young Mallory died.”
“Lois Capps’ office used all the political power and back-door machinations that they could to save her politically by helping Raymond while Mallory was alive,” says Mr. Stoll, “but then they cut him loose once she passed away. All this talk about him not being authorized to attend the party and not sending her staff to events where drinks are served is a fiction designed to shield her from her responsibility for this. It’s simple. If Morua wasn’t her lead man on veterans issues, he wouldn’t have been at the party that night and if he’d stayed home and not consumed seven or eight drinks, Mallory Rae Dies would still be alive.”
Matt Dies, the father of Mr. Morua’s victim, compares the motor vehicle Mr. Morua used to a murder weapon. “Raymond Morua may have pulled the trigger,” he says. “But I really feel that Lois Capps, if not loaded the gun, she gave him the ammunition. She put him in situations where he’s going to be drinking. It’s a social lubricant and he’s out there for her working those rooms. He also talked about his problem openly. If she didn’t know he had an alcohol problem, then she’s incompetent. In any case, she needs to be held accountable.”
As his attorney, Mr. Genis, has said from soon after taking on this case, his client is holding himself accountable for the events that fateful night.
On Tuesday, Raymond Morua is set to plead guilty to manslaughter and admit to prior convictions, which would bring a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison. Also, says his attorney, he will admit to violating the California Vehicle Code requirement to stop at the scene of a collision, which would mean a five-year consecutive term.
Mr. Morua would be eligible to receive a parole date after 12 years, but must serve 85 percent of his 20-year term, which means 17 years.
He will also admit to allegations pertaining to great bodily injury, which makes this conviction a strike prior for Califoria’s three-strikes law, says Mr. Genis.