Cops search for man who vanished before vehicular homicide trial
O'Kevin Moradian, 30, accused of killing corrections officer in DUI crash
SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A man awaiting trial for allegedly killing a corrections officer in a drunk driving crash failed to appear for his trial, and is now considered by authorities to be a fugitive.
Prosecutors say O'Kevin Moradian, 30, killed Jason Russo, a decorated war veteran, when he crashed into Russo's motorcycle in 2010 while Russo was on his way home from work.
Russo's family said they felt some comfort that jury selection was to begin Monday. But when Moradian failed to show up in court for his vehicular homicide trial, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.
"It's like it's happening all over again, like it was two years ago," said stepfather Howard Gelber. "To me, my wife, our sons, grandkids, it feels exactly the same."
Russo, 38, had just returned from Iraq when he was killed. He had previously helped recover bodies from the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks.
Ten months before prosecutors say Moradian crashed into Russo, Casselberry police pulled him over Moradian for careless driving. Officers later arrested him for refusing to take a breathalyzer test. While en route to the jail in the back of a patrol car, cameras captured Moradian asking the officers, "Have you ever lost a friend in a DUI accident?" Moradian told them he understood the dangers of drinking and driving. "Alot of families lose lives of loved ones," Moradian said in the recording.
In 2001, records show Moradian pled guilty to drunk driving.
While awaiting trial for allegedly killing Russo, a judge allowed Moradian to be released from custody on a $10,000 bond.
"It amazes me this guy is not in jail, doesn't have an ankle bracelet, has nothing," Gelber said. "He answers to no one."
Moradian was already facing more than 20 years in prison for charges related to Russo's death. He could face 5 more years for failing to attend the trial.
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