Suspected DUI driver in horrific fatal Pittsburg crash enters plea in court

A convicted drunk driver pleaded not guilty Friday to murder and DUI charges in a Pittsburg crash that killed a 7-year-old girl and her mother's boyfriend.

Christian Vargas, 25, entered his plea in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez in the deaths of Sela Mataele, 7, and Romero Castro.

"He does not deserve no sympathy," Corrina Rosalez, Sela's mother, told KTVU in an interview Thursday from hospital bed at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek.

"I'd give anything to see them again," she said.

Rosalez and her two other kids were hurt in the crash. She had a message for the defendant.

"I think you deserve to stay in jail. You deserve to stay there, because you took the two people that I cared about," Rosalez said.

Authorities said Vargas was driving recklessly while under the influence before Monday's crash.

"His blood-alcohol level two hours after, measured by what we call a PAS device, had a .20," more than twice the legal limit, said Derek Butts, a Contra Costa County deputy district attorney.

Butts said Vargas was driving his Camaro up to 100 mph before the crash.

Court records show Vargas had a prior DUI in San Francisco in 2019. The DMV then suspended his license for four months.

"Despite all that information he had, negative experience with a DUI itself and a three-month driving course, he engaged in this behavior," Butts said.

Vargas was warned by a judge back in 2019 that he could be charged with murder if he killed someone while again drunk.

"If you're going to drink, don't get in a car," Rosalez said. "Don't speed. Follow the speed limit."

KTVU legal analyst Michael Cardoza said Vargas' driving history is the reason why this case has been elevated from manslaughter to murder.

"A lot of people when they hear that warning, they think 'Ah, that will never happen to me.' But in fact it does happen to quite a number of people."

Vargas is being held at County Jail in Martinez. His bail is set at more than $2.5 million. He declined an interview request from KTVU, and his attorney also had no comment.