SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Raymond Morua, the suspect in a fatal hit and run that took the life of a popular young bartender, appeared in Santa Barbara Superior Court for arraignment, a week to the day after the alleged crime.
The 32-year-old former congressional aide hung his head during Friday morning's hearing, dressed in a blue jail jumpsuit.
Public Defender Michael Hanley represented Morua in court and told Judge Thomas Adams he had just received the case, needed time to review it and asked for the arraignment to be postponed. Prosecutor Arnie Tolks had no objection to the request and the judge agreed to the delay.
Friday's hearing came just two days after Mallory Dies was removed from life support and passed away from her injuries. She was 27-years-old.
After her death, District Attorney Joyce Dudley added murder charges to the counts against Morua.
The accident happened just after midnight on December 6 when Morua allegedly ran over Dies as she was legally crossing Anacapa Street with a group of friends. Police allege he kept driving while a witness followed him.
Morua evaded that witness, but was arrested a short time later after crashing his SUV into a palm tree on Cabrillo Boulevard. His blood alcohol level was .17, more than twice the legal limit.
At the time of the crash, Morua was working for U.S. Rep. Lois Capps as a congressional aide. He was fired by the following Monday.
Dies was popular on Santa Barbara's nightclub scene working as a local bartender. Dozens of people kept watch at the hospital after the accident and were grief stricken when she was unable to recover from extreme injuries to her head.
"It's obviously a tragic situation," Public Defender Michael Hanley told NewsChannel 3 outside the courthouse. "Mr. Morua is just deeply sorry for what he did and he wants to acknowledge responsibility and regrets the pain he's caused to the community."
Judge Adams accepted the new filing which includes charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death. The case file also now includes two prior DUI's from 2006 and 2007 in Ventura.
The judge also removed any chance of bail for Morua, which had been set at $250,000.
Hanley told NewsChannel 3 the case will likely be given to a different public defender. "We just got the case and need some time to exercise due diligence," he said. "We'll assign an appropriate lawyer for the case."
Morua's next court appearance is scheduled on December 18.
Friends of Mallory Dies are holding a fund raiser for her family on Sunday, December 15 at Blush Restaurant on State Street from 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm.