The planned Sept. 19 start for the Santa Barbara County Superior Court trial of the man charged with murder for a Santa Maria traffic crash has been delayed.
Javier Cortes, 31, of Santa Maria, was charged after the March 16, 2019 crash at the intersection of Donovan Road and Miller Street involving his Chrysler and a Jeep carrying four women.
Cortes has been accused of driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08, while traveling at 104 mph and running a red light.
Two people in the Jeep were killed: Monica Gonzalez Macias, 20, and Madison Elizabeth Coleman, 17, both of Atascadero.
The defendant also faces several special allegations, including that he caused great bodily injury to Kimberly Olivo and Makayla Angelique Everhart, the other passengers in the Jeep. Coleman, the driver, was pinned in the Jeep because of the damage from the high-speed crash.
The criminal case will return to court Oct. 18 when the attorneys and the judge may set a new date for the trial.
Attorneys — Stephen Wagner and Madison Whitmore for the prosecution and George Rosenstock for the defense — have estimated the trial will take eight to 10 days.
Since the preliminary hearing in late 2019, Cortes has switched defense attorneys at least once.
Cortes remains in the custody of the Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $2 million.
A second double-murder trial for a another driver, Gil Patrick Pena, in a different fatal crash continues to be delayed because the defense attorney, Robert Sanger, is involved in another trial.
Pena’s case returns to court in early October when the judge expects to discuss setting a trial date.
Pena, who is not in custody, is accused of driving a truck that failed to stop on Highway 135 at Union Valley Parkway, killing two men.
Multiple trials that have been delayed due to COVID-19 and other factors have stacked up as judges and attorneys wrestle with the backlog of cases.