The suspect in a 2013 DUI crash that killed a family of five and their unborn baby in Lodi was found guilty of six counts of second degree murder Wednesday.
Lodi Police say Ryan Morales was driving drunk at 90 miles per hour when he crashed into the Miranda family's car on Hamm and Vine in Lodi in October 2013. Witnesses reported he has been running red lights and talking on his cell phone moments before the crash.
Morales was one of two people who survived the collision. The Miranda's then 9-year-old son, Eden recovered from critical injuries and has since moved to another state with his god parents.
"Those images stick with you forever," Lieutenant Shad Canestrino with the Lodi Police Department said.
Canestrino was the third person to respond to the crash, and since led the extensive criminal investigation.
"As a parent myself, it was easy to get sucked into the emotion of the moment. Looking at those small kids out there injured, anybody out there who says they didn't go home that night and hug their kids a little tighter is a liar," Canestrino said.
The lieutenant said the verdict was bittersweet for first responders, who are happy to see the justice process run its course, but disappointed that nothing they can do will bring the family back for now 11-year-old Eden.
Morales gave no physical sign of a reaction to the verdict in court, staring ahead at the judge.
Canestrino said Morales had since written a letter to Eden, apologizing for the crash.
"But I haven't seen any remorse from him in court. I don't know that he is remorseful," Canestrino said.
"I think deep down inside his soul there has to be remorse," Armando Moreno said.
Moreno was one of thousands of community members who participated in several fundraisers for the family after the crash, which included a blood drive at St. Anne's church and a rummage sale at St. Peter's Lutheran.
"It really was just profound to me. It stuck in my heart. And I guess I had taken for granted how great of a community we are a part of," Moreno said.
Many in the community were waiting on the verdict to begin the healing process. But Canestrino said his healing began when he saw that Eden was beating the odds of surviving the crash.
"If I could talk to him I would tell him thank you for pulling through as well as he did. He was the one ray of hope we had out there and he gave us the inspiration to put together this case for him and his family to try to bring some sort of justice," Canestrino said.
Morales is due back in court on April 4 for sentencing. He faces 90 years to life for the murder charges, not including additional time for driving under the influence and causing great bodily injury.