Irvine Man Convicted in Crash That Killed 2 Passengers

Judge holding gavel in courtroom

Photo: OJO Images RF

SANTA ANA (CNS) - A 26-year-old Irvine man was convicted today in a fatal drunk driving crash that killed two of his passengers.

Norman David Martin was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder for the July 22, 2017, pre-dawn crash in a Chevrolet Corvette at Jamboree Road and Main Street.

The passengers, Jamie Lopez and Nancy Ortiz, were both 26. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Martin acted as his own attorney in the trial, but chose not to make an opening statement, closing arguments or question any of the witnesses.

The trial was held up at one point after Martin made an outburst in court during the proceedings that “the seed of doubt is planted,'' and he apparently tried to take his own life while in jail. Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard King appointed Alisha Montoro of the Orange County Public Defender's Office to be a stand-by attorney for Martin while authorities worked to determine if he was mentally incompetent to continue acting as his own attorney.

King on Monday ruled that he had no evidence to show the defendant suffered from any mental disorder. Montoro wanted to delay the trial for a week while a psychiatric expert examined Martin to see if a traumatic brain injury affected him.

Martin hit speeds up to 138 mph seconds before the crash, according to testimony in the trial. The last recorded speed before the impact was 105 mph.

Martin's blood-alcohol level was .11 or .12, above the legal limit of .08, according to testimony.

Martin ran a red light before the two-seater struck the crown of the intersection and went airborne, slamming into three palm trees, according to prosecutors. Martin was ejected from the sports car along with his passengers and he spent about a month in a hospital, prosecutors said.

Martin had just met the victims outside of the Mesa nightclub in Costa Mesa and invited them to join him at a friend's house in Irvine. Their other friends squeezed into an Uber to go along to the party, but the driver wouldn't take any more customers, so Lopez and Ortiz crammed into the two-seater with Martin.

Martin and his victims were not wearing seat belts.

Martin faces up to 30 years to life in prison when he is sentenced, which is scheduled for Sept. 3.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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