It’s ‘guilty’ in Lampson DUI murder case

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Booking photo of Alex Trujillo. Photo courtesy of the Orange County District Attorney's Office

A jury found a Garden Grove man guilty of second degree murder in the 2008 traffic death of a College Park East woman on Wednesday, June 23.

Alex David Trujillo, 45, could get 15 years in state prison for fatally striking Cathy Busse, 46, while she and her autistic son Samuel Busse, then 14, were bike riding on Lampson Avenue on Oct. 12, 2008.

The truck went over the curb at 45 m.p.h.

Samuel Busse was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital the day of the collision. She died Wednesday, Oct. 15. Seal Beach detectives arrested Trujillo for murder Saturday, Oct. 18, when he was released from the hospital. The mug shot photo shows Trujillo in his hospital gown.

According to trial testimony, Trujillo had a blood alcohol level of 0.11—in addition to being under the influence of Oxycontin, Vicodin, Xanax and Soma—when he struck Busse with his truck.

By California law you are considered drunk if you are driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent.

“The family is happy justice is being served—but in these cases, nobody wins,” said Angela Biscan, who is Cathy Busse’s sister.

Biscan pointed out that the families of both the drunk drivers and their victims suffer in cases like this one.

Biscan said Deputy District Attorney Susan Price took a risk when she decided to seek a conviction on second degree murder without including any lesser offenses.

Biscan said Price didn’t want the jury to have a “middle ground” between an acquittal and a murder conviction.

“Now, we have to prepare for the sentencing, which is Aug. 20,” Biscan said.

Biscan said all the jurors knew about Cathy Busse was her name—they have not seen her photograph and there was no mention of her nephew Samuel during the trial.

Biscan said friends of the family and members of the autism community have offered to speak at the sentencing hearing, when family members will be allowed to give victim impact statements to the court.

The survivor

One witness won’t give an impact statement. He can’t.

Biscan said that Samuel Busse, who was also hit by Trujillo, has apraxia.  She said he has no speech and does not have the small motor skills that would otherwise allow him to communicate by writing or by sign language.

However, Samuel Busse does have the motor skills to engage in sporting activities like bicycle riding, something he and his mother did frequently before Oct. 12. Biscan said that during the trial, Samuel Busse, who will turn 16 in a few weeks, saw the photographs of the truck and the two bikes involved in the collission.

“He couldn’t express his sorrow by crying,” Biscan said. “But when he went home, he laid down on her bed and hugged her side of the bed.”

Biscan said Samuel Busse kisses his mother’s photograph every day.

“Now my nephew has no mother to fight for him,” Biscan said.

The driver

Biscan said that Trujillo cried when he took the witness stand in his own defense at trial. He said he thought he was OK to drive.

Biscan said that during the trial, Deputy DA Price brought out the fact that he was being treated for alcohol withdrawal while he was in the hospital following the collision.

Trujillo has been in jail since his arrest. He has a prior conviction for drunk driving.

A family’s thanks

Biscan thanked both the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving who had supported Cathy Busse’s family for the past 20 months.

She also thanked the Seal Beach Police Department, the Orange County Fire Department, and the witnesses who stopped at the scene of the crime.

“I think the entire community helped,” Biscan said.

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Murder victim Cathy Busse and her son Sam Busse. Photo courtesy of Angela Biscan
It’s ‘guilty’ in Lampson DUI murder case