Appellate court frees man from SLO County Jail

July 23, 2015

justice 2A California appellate court has freed a man from San Luis Obispo County Jail whom it deemed was wrongfully convicted of manslaughter. [New Times]

Rene Rojas was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in the accidental death of his friend. The conviction was overturned on the grounds that Rojas was not driving a vehicle at the time of the fatal accident.

On Sept.14, 2010, Rojas brought his RV to his friend’s Arroyo Grande shop for inspection. Ron “Tuffy” Kelsey, a mechanic and owner of the Tuffy’s Central Supply, died while inspecting the RV.

Kelsey crawled underneath the rear wheels, which were placed on chocks. Kelsey instructed Rosas to shift through the gears of the RV.

When Rosas stepped on the gas, the RV lurched backwards off the chocks and crushed Kelsey.

Last year, Rosas was tried for vehicular manslaughter. Rosas was convicted at the end of a five-day trial, which he described as “corrupt.”

While in jail, Rosas was informed that the nonprofit California Appellate Project picked up his case. On Oct. 15, 2014, Santa Barbara attorney David Andreasen filed an appeal with California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Andreasen argued Rosas needed to be driving in order to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter. Rosas was just running through the gears at the direction of the mechanic. He was not driving, Andreasen stated.

The appellate court overturned the conviction and ordered that Rosas be released from jail on May 19. Rosas’s release was delayed, but he was freed from jail on July 2.

Rosas is now living in Santa Maria. He says he is trying to clear his name.

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11 Comments

  1. freshair says:

    “Rosas admitted to sipping whiskey and ingesting marijuana prior to the incident.”

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. Dexter says:

    here is a bit more info

    http://www.santamariasun.com/news/7256/it-just-happened/

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  3. Cindy says:

    There has to be something more to this. I tried to find out why he was charged to begin with but can’t find any info out there. According to tomjones (who responded to my earlier post), Mr Rojas was possibly drunk ( not that this would account for a charge of vehicular man slaughter).

    I’m wondering if rather than just putting in the clutch and running through the gears as his friend instructed him, maybe he started the vehicle and popped the clutch because he was drunk and would have known better had he been sober? Even then, it would be more like reckless man slaughter.

    Either way the DA never should have managed to win this case. If anyone knows the facts, it sure would be interesting. The article states that the vehicle moved forward because Rojas applied the brake but that doesn’t make any sense, at least not to me.

    (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  4. SLO_Johnny says:

    The appellate court ruling seems technical but logical and correct. He wasn’t driving; using the common definition of the word.
    It’s terrible that the mechanic died but it’s basic safety precautions to not climb under a vehicle unless it is properly supported and there is something to prevent the vehicle from crushing someone if it falls.

    (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
  5. black sheep says:

    just ask Sandra bland

    (-5) 9 Total Votes - 2 up - 7 down
  6. Mr. Holly says:

    It all starts at the DA’s office because they are the one’s who filed the case. Who was the DA that did this? Who was his superior who approved it? These would be who the guilty ones are. Will there be any action taken against any of these people? Yes, of course, give them the pay raise that they think that they are entitled to because of their hard work. Here we go again.

    (16) 20 Total Votes - 18 up - 2 down
  7. dogeatdog says:

    There does seem to be of corruption around these parts lately. Glad to hear he did not have to spend most of his life in prison before being found not guilty.

    (16) 18 Total Votes - 17 up - 1 down
    • Scott says:

      Corruption, judicial misconduct, lying, perjury, evidence tampering, false police reporting, discrimination, racism are very prevalent in SLO. Remember how many officers, Narcotic detectives, Investigators have been arrested, fired, retired early ?

      SLO got rid of the corrupt Chief of Police the DA once he knew one of his undercover Narc’s Cory Pierce, AJ Santana who not only committed Perjury before Judge Rita Federman the DA allowed him a free pass. No arrests, no review of the hundreds of cases he was lying about. I find the LEO’s here not all but many very deceitful lying and deeply corrupt. From creating the MTF= Muslim Task Force to the 100% corrupt NTF/GTF/SET units i know since i was asked to assist them in the bogus SUMMER JOHNSON scandal.

      Not to mention the eavesdropping on local Criminal Defense Lawyers, U/C filing false affidavits and perjured testimony all permitted by the DA ‘s office and at least three Law Enforcement agencies, SLO Sheriffs office, Paso PD, SLO PD.

      Then snooping on Judges they did not like, and spouses as well

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  8. Cindy says:

    Unless there is something missing from this story, then this is just outright SCARY. How could this poor guy have been charged to begin with? What’s worse and more frightening is how could a jury have found him guilty? He sounds 100% innocent to me? What the heck? Does anyone have more info as to what transpired here to get him charged in the first place?

    (22) 26 Total Votes - 24 up - 2 down
    • tomjones says:

      If I remember correctly, he was accused of being drunk at the time. Probably the usual public smear campaign employed by the DA to ensure another conviction, another notch in the belt, justice be damned.

      (16) 20 Total Votes - 18 up - 2 down

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