Rigoberto Gracida

Rigoberto Gracida

For the second time this week, a Santa Maria man accused of drunken driving and causing a crash that killed two people and injured others on Highway 154 last weekend appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Rigoberto Gracida, 30, has been charged with a felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury to four people.

He also faces six special allegations related to causing great bodily injury

On Thursday, Judge John McGregor vacated a planned Jan. 4 preliminary hearing, and instead set Jan. 25 as the date for the case to return to court. 

At the time, the judge and attorneys — Deputy District Attorney Cory Graves and Deputy Public Defender Erica Sutherland — may set a new date for the preliminary hearing.

Gracida was arrested after the three-vehicle crash on Highway 154 east of Zaca Station Road early Sunday that killed Hamilton Dias Bonilla, 35, and Antonia Bautista Santiago, 50, both of Santa Maria, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Several other Santa Maria residents were injured in the collision, the CHP said.

Gracida pleaded not guilty to the charges during a Tuesday arraignment hearing.

He also faces a misdemeanor charge of driving with a blood alcohol content above the limit of .08 percent, where a person is considered drunk under the law.

The criminal complaint alleged his blood alcohol content was .10. 

Gracida also has been charged with a misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended or revoked license along with an infraction for making an illegal turn.

In other fatal crashes involving multiple injuries, the District Attorney’s Office filed similar charges to those Gracida faces, with one attorney telling a judge that accounting for each special allegation for great bodily injury in that case made the potential sentence longer than a manslaughter charge.

If an investigation reveals other information, the District Attorney’s Office also can file additional or different charges against Gracida.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.