Alleged drunk driver avoids murder trial
By Neal Putnam
The drunk driver who killed popular local hairstylist Oscar Melero has pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and is expected to receive a prison term next month.
Melero, 52, was killed in the early morning hours of Feb. 15, 2015, when his BMW was rear-ended at high speed while stopped in traffic waiting to exit the Interstate 5 freeway at Via de la Valle. He was en route to Del Mar to participate in the California 10/20 coastal race.
Many remember the avid runner for his time working at Indigo Salon and Spa in Hillcrest and Tops Salon in Mission Hills.
Abraham Granados Beltran, 25, of San Juan Capistrano, will be sentenced April 20 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers. Beltran remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $1 million bail.
Family, friends, coworkers and others are expected to attend the sentencing or send letters to the judge. Probation has been ruled out.
Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Beltran faces a “stipulated sentence” of 14 years and eight months in state prison. He agreed to accept the proposed sentence, she said, and he also pleaded guilty to injuring another driver in the collision.
A second-degree murder charge was added to the charges in May of 2015, but the charge was dropped when Beltran pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter. Beltran didn’t have a valid driver’s license at the time because it had been revoked due to several drunk-driving convictions in Orange County in 2011 and 2012.
Before working as an independent hairstylist for Indigo co-owners Randi Hosking and Phyllis Strauss in recent years, Melero worked alongside Hosking for many years prior at Tops and had known Strauss since before entering beauty school. He was living in National City with his longtime partner at the time of his death.
Before the plea, Beltran’s trial had originally been set for April. He could have faced a life term if convicted of the murder charge.
—Neal Putnam is a local freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.