ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
Case # 12CF1907
Date: April 1, 2016
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A drunken driver is scheduled to face trial on Monday for murdering a 5-year-old girl and severely injuring the child’s sister and mother by crashing into them in a crosswalk after driving through a red light. Jessicah Louise Cowan, 37, Lake Hughes, is charged with one felony count each of murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, hit and run with permanent injury or death, hit and run with injury, two felony counts of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, two felony counts of driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more causing bodily injury, and an infraction for possession of marijuana while driving. Cowan also faces allegations and sentencing enhancements for causing bodily injury to Eloisa M. and Grisea M., having a blood alcohol content of .20 % or more, fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter, and causing great bodily injury. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, April 4, 2016, at 9:15 a.m. in Department C-35, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 11:00 a.m. on June 23, 2012, Cowan is accused of driving erratically in Santa Ana while under the influence of alcohol. She is accused of driving on 17th Street and running through a red light before losing control and crashing into the center median. She is accused of continuing on 17th Street and driving through another red light at Spurgeon Street. Three victims, including 5-year-old Osmara Meza, her 6-year-old sister Gresia, and her mother Eloisa, were holding hands and legally walking through a crosswalk on a green light with a walk sign.
Cowan is accused of crashing into the three victims when she ran the red light, throwing them from the intersection into the street. The defendant is accused of then attempting to flee the scene in her a car. A witness used their own car to block the road to prevent Cowan from fleeing.
The Santa Ana Police Department responded to the scene and arrested Cowan. At the time of her arrest, the defendant is accused of possessing marijuana in her vehicle.
Osmara was pronounced dead at the scene. Gresia and Eloisa were transported to the hospital to be treated for traumatic brain injuries.
Murder may be charged in cases of implied malice, where the defendant intentionally commits an act that is dangerous to human life, knowing it is dangerous to human life, and acts with conscious disregard for human life.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff