Lodi father arrested in fatal crash near Newman is released from jail

09/03/2014 3:20 PM

09/04/2014 12:28 PM

A Lodi man arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with a Saturday crash near Newman that killed his son was released from jail Wednesday afternoon.

The California Highway Patrol arrested Guillermo Graciano, 47, on suspicion of murder and driving under the influence of alcohol. His 12-year-old son, Joel Lopez, died in the crash, according to Stanislaus County coroner’s officials.

Prosecutors had until Wednesday to formally charge Graciano, or else jail officials would be forced to release him from custody. The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office didn’t file charges against Graciano on Wednesday.

Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said prosecutors are waiting for other reports and will conduct further investigation before deciding what they will do with Graciano’s case. Prosecutors can file charges against Graciano at a later date.

He had been held without bail at the Stanislaus County Jail since early Sunday. Graciano had been released by 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to jail records.

The boy’s age was mistakenly listed as 11 in an initial CHP news release. Coroner’s officials said Wednesday that the boy had a birthday a few days before the crash, which occurred shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday on Interstate 5, just north of Stuhr Road.

The boy’s father was driving the vehicle when he lost control and crashed along the freeway, the CHP reported. The boy was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle.

Graciano told officers he was driving in the fast lane and one of the rear tires began to separate. The CHP said officers found no evidence of that and attributed the crash to Graciano’s intoxication and high speed.

The vehicle was heading north about 85 mph when the vehicle rotated clockwise and went off the freeway, overturning several times before coming to a stop, according to the CHP.

Gloria Lopez, 41, and two teenage girls were injured in the crash. Authorities have not indicated how these passengers and the driver are related. They are all from Lodi.

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