A former Marathon man sentenced just over three years ago to 30 years in prison for killing two people while driving drunk is back in court Monday for the beginning of his retrial.
Pierson Villalobos, who turned 35 on Wednesday, was convicted in October 2012 and sentenced on Jan. 31, 2013.
But on July 23, 2014, the Third District Court of Appeal tossed his conviction, saying Acting Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Ruth Becker erred in allowing one of the six jurors to serve. That juror, John Ardivson, had done handyman work for blood analyst Jody Gyokeres, who processed Villalobos' blood test following the crash.
Prosecutor Carla Litrenta said that since the first trial, two witnesses have died and one might have been deported.
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"We're relying on past testimony" for the retrial, she said.
Monday at 9 a.m. at the Marathon courthouse is for jury selection, and Litrenta said it might go all day. She expects the trial to go through Thursday.
Villalobos was convicted of two felony counts of driving under the influence-manslaughter stemming from a Nov. 28, 2009, crash at U.S. 1 and 23rd Street in Old Town Marathon. The jury had rejected the defense's claim that someone other than Villalobos was at the wheel.
In the Third District's 2014 ruling that vacated the conviction, a three-judge panel wrote that Villalobos had a blood alcohol level of .391 percent. In Florida, one is considered legally drunk at .08.
At the time of the crash, the Florida Highway Patrol said his 1999 Ford pickup was headed northbound on U.S. 1 and collided with a 2009 Toyota driven by Mercedes Diaz. It then struck a car driven by Deborah Mangrum, 34.
Mangrum, a mother of four, died at the scene. Christopher Jennings, her passenger, died a few days later at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Two memorial markers remain at the site of the deadly crash.
Villalobos has been transferred from state prison to the Monroe County jail as he awaits retrial. Before his conviction was vacated, his scheduled release date was Feb. 4, 2036.