SANTA ANA, Calif. – A previously convicted DUI driver was charged with murder today in connection with a crash that killed an autistic 12-year-old boy who was riding his bike through a Costa Mesa crosswalk with his father. The driver was arrested by Costa Mesa police on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.
Richard Lavalle, 59, of Long Beach was charged with one felony count of murder in the death of 12-year-old Noel Bascon who died after being hit by an F-150 pickup truck at the intersection of Junipero Drive and Arlington Drive around 6 p.m. on Sunday, December 6, 2020.
He was previously convicted on driving under the influence in San Diego County in 2013.
Drivers convicted of driving under the influence in California are required to be given what is known as a Watson advisement that informs them that if they kill someone while driving under the influence they can be charged with murder. The Steve Ambriz Act, authored by then-Assemblymember Todd Spitzer, requires people applying for a California driver’s license to sign a form acknowledging that they can be charged with murder if they kill someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Lavelle faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life if convicted.
“The unimaginable pain that this family is being forced to endure because of the selfish decision of a stranger is unconscionable,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “I have spent decades advocating for stricter penalties for people who choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Now another innocent child has paid the price for someone else’s selfish decision. I am sick and tired of my prosecutors having to go to court to file murder charges against repeat drunk and drugged drivers who have been warned about the consequences – sometimes multiple times. Taking a Sunday bike ride with your dad shouldn’t equate to a death sentence.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.