No news is good news? Stephanie Segal sentencing delayed

October 28, 2011

As many of you may know, Stephanie Segal was scheduled to be sentenced yesterday for the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.

However, when there was no word last night on the sentencing, I reached out to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels to see if he’d heard anything. As it turned out, he’d already checked with the court clerk, who informed him that the hearing had been continued to November 29th; no reason was given.

Personally, I’m hoping the judge will give us a strict sentence we can be thankful for around Thanksgiving, instead of a terrifying slap on the wrist just before Halloween.

……..

Wheels also reports that Shawn Fields is appealing his seven-year sentence in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin, case number B236186. His opening brief is due in mid-December; however, he’s still waiting for an attorney to be appointed, so expect a delay.

And a trial date has finally been scheduled for Patrick Roraff in the alleged street-racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for December 19, with a trial readiness conference January 20th, and the actual trial is set to begin on January 23rd. As Wheels notes, we’ll have to see how firm those dates turn out to be.

After all, Roraff may have some more soccer matches scheduled.


19-year old Downey man fatally shot while riding his bike; 8th fatal SoCal bike shooting this year

October 18, 2011

This has got to stop.

According to the Downey Beat, a 19-year old man was shot to death while riding his bike in Downey early Monday morning.

The man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found bleeding in the street on Earnshaw Avenue near the intersection with Prichard Street around 3 am. Police report few clues and no witnesses; the site reports that it’s currently unknown if he was shot from a passing car or because of a dispute, or for some other reason.

Despite the lack of public ID, the victim was clearly well known in the neighborhood, described as friendly man and a good barber who gave haircuts to local residents.

This is the eight shooting victim killed while riding a bike this year, and the seventh in the County of Los Angeles. That compares with 59 cyclists killed in traffic-related collision since the first of the year.

He may not have been targeted because he rode a bike. But the loss of a young man who hadn’t even seen his 20th birthday is every bit as tragic.

And just as much a waste.

My sympathies to the victim’s family and friends.

……..

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields, who was recently sentenced to seven years in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old Pacoima cyclist Danny Marin, has filed an appeal of his conviction.

Wheels reports that the appeal was filed the same day Fields changed his plea. There’s no basis given, but it’s a safe bet that it hinges on the defense’s motion to have almost all the evidence tossed for lack of probable cause in entering Field’s home to make the arrest, which was denied by the judge.

Fields was sentenced to 2 years for the vehicular manslaughter charge, plus five for the hit-and-run, as well as ordered to pay $10,515 in restitution to the victim’s family.

He is now confined in the North Kern Prison, where he can expect to spend at least the next three-plus years with good behavior.


Breaking news: Shawn Fields guilty in death of cyclist Danny Marin; details on Jaclyn Garcia plea deal

September 30, 2011

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields unexpectedly changed his plea to guilty last week, and has been sentenced in the death of 17-year old Kennedy High School student Danny Marin.

The collision occurred on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima about 2 am on October 2nd of last year — exactly one year ago this weekend. Fields was allegedly drunk when he hit Marin, then drove home after initially stopping at the scene; police found him inside his home, sleeping on the couch.

In what was apparently a last ditch effort, Fields’ attorney attempted to have the evidence suppressed last month — including the results of Fields’ blood alcohol test — arguing that the arresting officers did not have a warrant when they entered his home, after he failed to respond when they knocked. The judge rejected that motion, ruling that the police had probable cause to arrest Fields and that there were exigent circumstances that negated the need for a warrant.

The prosecutor handling the case told Wheels that Fields pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and admitted to the special allegation that he fled the scene of Marin’s death.

He received a sentence of 7 years in state prison; with good behavior and the current prison overcrowding crisis, he can be expected to serve roughly half of that. Or less.

It won’t bring Danny back.

But at least Danny got the justice his death demanded.

……..

In other legal news, Wheels also offers the full details on the plea bargain accepted by Jaclyn Andrea Garcia for the allegedly drunken collision that nearly took the life of cyclist Adam Rybicki last April.

Rybicky was participating in a weekly, informal group ride known as the Doctor’s Ride shortly after 7 am on Sunday, April 3rd, when Garcia’s car headed straight towards the group on the wrong side of the road.

In the mad scramble to get out of her way, Rybicki was hit head-on, and another rider was injured when he was hit by the fender of Garcia’s car. Rybicki survived, in part, because an orthopedic surgeon happened to be on the ride that day.

Reports from observers at the scene suggest that Garcia and her companions seemed emotionless and unconcerned about the carnage they had caused; maybe because it was far from her first infraction. While Garcia denied it, many people who were on the ride that day have severely criticized the apparent lack of responsibility in the letter she wrote to the court.

Rybicki remains intubated in a rehabilitation facility; while he’s lost the sight in one eye, he is able to communicate using a white board. He reportedly continues to improve, but faces a very long road back to be anything close to the man he was before.

As reported here before, the plea deal will result in just one year in county jail for Garcia. However, Wheels reports that there are more conditions to her sentencing.

She was initially sentenced to three years in state prison, the maximum term allowed for violating CVC 23153(a), which prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury.

However, the sentence was suspended and she was placed on five years probation.  As noted, she will be required to spend 365 days in county jail; the judge specifically barred serving her time on house arrest. Other conditions include court fines and acknowledging that she’s agreed to a first strike under the three strikes law.

She’s also required to abstain from drug or alcohol use, enroll in a 3-month DUI class, wear a Lindsey Lohan-style SCRAM device for one year to detect alcohol use, submit to random drug testing, and install an ignition interlock device on her car.

How about just revoking her drivers license?

Permanently, preferably.

In addition, she will have to participate in the HAM/morgue program, seek and maintain employment approved by a probation officer, and agree to submit to searches by probation or other officers without probable cause.

A restitution hearing is scheduled for November 17th, and she’s scheduled to surrender for incarceration on October 6th.

While I think most of us would have preferred more jail time, it is a tough sentence in other respects. And if she violates the terms or commits another offense, she has that suspended prison sentence hanging over her head.

Personally, I wouldn’t bet on her making it through probation without screwing up.


SaMo cyclist deliberately assaulted; alleged Jorge Alvarado killer plays soccer in Texas

August 18, 2011

I’ve gotten reports of an intentional assault on a cyclist in Santa Monica on Wednesday.

Cyclist Will Ashe sends word that the driver of a black Lexus GS 470 deliberately rear-ended another rider on Colorado Ave, then fled the scene. Police were called, but the victim got the license plate number wrong.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s hard to get the number right when you’re trying to pick yourself up off the pavement.

Be on the lookout for a car that meets that description driven by an African-American man. But remember that there are probably hundreds of cars like that on the Westside.

So don’t get carried away.

Call the police, and let them deal with it.

Update: In my rush to get this online last night, I neglected to mention that the rider is okay, though the bike has a tacoed rear wheel.

……..

Good news and — to me, at least — maddening news on the legal front.

Cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels reports that the judge has denied a motion to suppress evidence in the case of Shawn Fields; the allegedly drunk hit-and-run driver is accused of killing 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October.

The defense had argued that police did not have a warrant when the entered Fields’ house after he did not respond when they saw him sleeping inside. As a result, they wanted everything officers observed after entering the home suppressed, as well as the results of blood alcohol and field sobriety tests.

However, the judge ruled that the police did the right to enter the home based on probable cause and exigent circumstances.

The next court date is pre-trial hearing scheduled for September 20th at the San Fernando courthouse, case # PA068775.

Meanwhile, in the case of Patrick Roraff, the teenage driver accused of killing pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado while street racing in April of last year, has had his pretrial hearing delayed until September 1st, case #SB – FSB1002475.

Wheels reports that attorneys for Roraff and co-defendant Brett Morin have both filed motions to have their charges dismissed for insufficient evidence; Roraff has also filed a motion to have his charges reduced from felony manslaughter to a misdemeanor; I’m told that both motions are routine.

Don’t go looking him around here next month, though. Despite the seriousness of the charges he faces, the judge had given Roraff permission to travel to Texas with his school soccer team.

So let me get this straight.

Despite — allegedly — killing another human being because he couldn’t resist the urge to illegally race another driver, he gets to play soccer with his friends, while Jorge Alvarado’s family and loved ones face going on without him.

Am I the only one who finds that more than a little infuriating?

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The California Bicycle Coalition calls for action to support AB 345 to give cyclists and pedestrians the voice with Caltrans we should have had all along.

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Intriguing idea, as Streetsblog’s Damien Newton reports — and supports — an idea floated by the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee to elevate the planned Expo Bikeway over several busy Westside intersections.

And speaking of Streetsblog, Damien looks at bike-friendly Long Beach this week.

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Looks like someone is deliberately trying to sabotage courses for next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Evidently feeling a need to attack all former Tour de France winners, Floyd Landis accuses Alberto Contador of doping by association; he’s no doubt looking for dirt on Cadel Evans as we speak. Meanwhile, the Cadel effect results in an upsurge of interest in cycling Down Under. Vincenzo Nibali will defend his title in the Vuelta. Twenty-year old Portland racer Jacob Rathe goes pro with top-tier team Garmin-Cervelo; evidently, Taylor Phinney isn’t the only pro cycling prodigy.

……..

A writer for the Baltimore sun reminds us that bikes can kill, too.

However, a tiny bit of perspective might be helpful — you can count the number of people killed by bikes each year on one hand and still respond with the inappropriate gesture of your choice, while motor vehicles kill well over 30,000 people a year in the U.S. alone.

Of course, the people who hate bikes also tend to forget that colliding with a pedestrian is just as likely to result in serious injuries or death to the cyclist. And it isn’t always the cyclists’ fault. But maybe the solution is as simple as better infrastructure.

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LACMA will offer a free screening of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure this Friday. More on the new 7th Street road diet and bike lanes from EcoVillage, CicLAvia and LADOT Bike Blog; I rode them myself Wednesday evening, but I’ll save that story for another day. Bicycle Fixation offers a lovely look at a bike Sunday in Santa Monica. CicLAvia expands into South L.A. and Olvera Street and Chinatown. C.I.C.L.E. says studies show exercise increases lifespan, so why aren’t we? A look back at biking in L.A. circa 1901. Photos from the newly upgraded section of the Ballona Bike Path in Culver City. UC Irvine makes a dent in campus bike thefts by arresting five suspected thieves, one for the third time; does the third strike law apply to bike theft? Meanwhile, Manhattan Beach police arrest another four bike thieves; 9 down, a few thousand or so to go. Live 4 Bikes, a new bike shop is officially opening in Bellflower this weekend, and offering free tune-up for the first 50 customers. Temple City plans to install protected bike lanes on Rosemead Blvd. The Claremont Cyclist asks why the recent stories about deaths in Yosemite ignored the park’s leading killer. Sometimes, when everything goes wrong it turns out better. After a flurry of activity by local advocates, Newport Beach’s illegal, though long-standing, ban on bikes on a local street is coming down, despite claims that it really wasn’t a ban after all, despite what the sign says.

L.A.’s own former National Criterium champ Rahsaan Bahati wins the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix; San Diego’s Trina Jacobson takes the women’s crown. San Diego hosts a successful Courteous Mass. Drivers complain about cyclists, cyclists complain about bikers. A Fairfield cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after witnesses say he ran a red light and rode into the path of a turning car. A bill increasing penalties for using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving goes to the Governor’s desk — and extends the prohibition to cyclists, as well, so hang the damn thing up when you ride, already.

More evidence that bicycling is a lot safer than people think; still, Bob Mionske says it’s a good idea to wear a helmet — legally as well as medically — even if you don’t have to. It may be the end of the road for motormania. Utah hit-and-runs are on the rise as more people ride bikes. A beginner’s guide to safe cycling from my hometown, good advice that would work anywhere. More on the Black Hawk bike ban going to the Colorado Supreme Court. Compete Streets is now the law in New York state. There’s good news for NYC cyclists as the lawsuit against the popular Prospect Park West bike lanes is dismissed. After a shattering hit-and-run, New York police do…not much. Another day, another Daily News hack job on Gotham cyclists; judging by their reports, Daily News reporters would rather deal with a zombie apocalypse than an infestation of bike riders. Defining bikers, cyclists and rolling pedestrians. The New York Times says Florida pedestrians have to run for their lives.

A look at the infamously popular Rosarito-to-Ensenada bike ride coming up next month. A Canadian street performer has his prop bike stolen during his act. Victoria police crack down on cyclists for not wearing helmets. A UK motorist is convicted of using two mobile phones to talk and tweet at the same time while driving — and making the police wait while he finished his call. No, seriously. Bike theft is a problem in the UK as well, as a 14-year old rider helps bust a bike theft ring. Free-to-use bike pumps appear in London. Why Cambridge is a model cycling city. Now you can ride your bike to look for Nessie. The first improved roads were built for and by cyclists, before they were co-opted by motorists. Seville, Spain experiences a 100 time jump in cycling levels in just four years, which would probably put the Daily News writers in a padded cell.

Finally, Danny MacAskill is back, doing the impossible on two wheels. And writing for Bicycling, pro cyclist Ted King says enjoy — truly, consciously enjoy — your next ride. And your life.

Now that’s a philosophy I can get behind.


Legal update: DUI driver arraigned for injuring Adam Rybicki, Valencia sentencing today

May 25, 2011

These days, it seems like there are as many court cases involving cyclists than there are riders on the streets.

Fortunately, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels has done his usual great job of keeping us up to date with the latest legal proceedings — including charges against the under-aged, allegedly intoxicated driver who ran down who hit Adam Rybicki head on, and Thursday’s sentencing for Marco Antonio Valencia, convicted in the hit-and-run DUI death of Joseph Novotny.

Editor’s Note: While Dj Wheels provided updates on these cases, any commentary or information beyond the actual status of the cases are mine. So blame me, not him.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia:  Charges were filed May 19th at the Torrance Courthouse for the DUI collision that critically injured cyclist Adam Rybicki this past April. The Supervising Judge recused all the judges there from hearing the case, with no public explanation for his actions; however, rumor has it that Garcia’s mother is a court reporter in Torrance, which would explain the recusal.

As a result, arraignment was held Tuesday in Department 5 of the Inglewood Courthouse, Case #YA081126. Garcia’s attorney, George Bird, entered a plea of not guilty to all four counts:

1) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
2) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury
3) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
4) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury

Bird also informed the court on the record that his client has voluntarily surrendered her driver’s license, entered into a three-month alcohol program, voluntarily attended 18 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and has begun electronic alcohol monitoring with the SCRAM device made famous by Hollywood’s favorite outlaw.

Too bad it’s just a little too late.

Had Garcia sobered up a few months earlier, Adam Rybicki might not be in a coma right now, the victim of a 20-year old woman still drunk and behind the wheel at 7:15 in the morning.

And you can bet that none of the actions Garcia took in surrendering her license or entering rehab were her idea; it was no doubt ordered by her attorney in an attempt to show remorse and get his client released with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

After all, it’s worked for any number of Hollywood celebrities, whose first stop after hitting the tabloids is usually a stint in luxury rehab.

And by all accounts, Garcia’s high-priced attorney knows what he’s doing. Maybe if Dr. Thompson’s attorney had ordered him straight into rehab, he might be a free man today.

Let’s hope that the court takes this case seriously, and doesn’t let yet another driver buy her way out of taking responsibility.

Speaking of the infamous Good Doctor:

Dr. Christopher Thompson:  The date for oral arguments has been continued upon the court’s own motion in the appeal of Dr. Thompson’s conviction for intentionally injuring two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon by slamming on his brakes in front of them.  The new date is now 6/29/11.

Marco Antonio ValenciaValenica was convicted last month in the hit-and run DUI death of cyclist Joseph Novotny. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for today (Thursday) at the San Fernando Court; he faces up to 24 year to life in prison.

Shawn Fields:  Fields is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October. Fields reportedly told investigators that he thought he might have hit something, because he remembered seeing sparkly dust flying over him — from the windshield shattered by Marin’s body. Pretrial/Trial Setting Conference is scheduled for 6/22.

Patrick Roraff & Brett Morin:  Roraff and Morin are charged with causing the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. The two were allegedly street racing when Roraff lost control and slammed into Alvarado, who was riding on the opposite shoulder. Pretrial conference is scheduled for 7/7.

Stephanie Drew Segal:  Segal is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura last year (notice a theme here?). She allegedly plowed into Laing after leaving a local wine tasting room, and entered into a rehab facility after her arrest. Preliminary setting is scheduled for 6/28; Wheels notes that the docket says the DA has been ordered to have victims present, which is unusual for this type of hearing.

Renato Demartino:  Demartino is charged with the hit-and-run death of 22-year old cyclist Marco Acuapan, who died in April, four months after he was allegedly hit by Demartino’s car while riding in a bike lane in Tustin. A pretrial conference scheduled for 6/1.

Danae Marie Miller:  Miller is charged with the death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel; she was allegedly drunk and texting when she rear-ended Britel, who was riding in a marked bike lane. Pretrial conference scheduled for 7/15.

Captain John David Hines:  Hines, a Long Beach Fire Captain, is accused of plowing into cyclist Jeffrey Gordon, then fleeing the scene, despite legal, and professional, obligations to stop and render aid. He had allegedly been drinking for hours in a local bar before getting behind the wheel, and had a BAC of .24 at the time of his arrest — three times the legal limit. And once again, he reportedly checked into rehab right after his arrest. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/17.

Satnam Singh:  Singh is charged with killing 20-year old college student Nick Haverland in yet another hit-and-run DUI — this time, in a hit-and-run rampage involving three separate collisions in a matter of minutes that left five people injured and Haverland dead. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/14; Singh remains in custody with the Ventura County Sheriff.


Cyclist killed in Indio area, suspected Jim Swarzman killer released, Marco Antonio Valencia on trial

April 15, 2011

I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to write this.

Last night, the CHP reported a collision involving a cyclist in the Indio area; the cryptic feed indicated that the coroner had been called.

As I searched for confirmation, though, I found another report online that said the coroner call had been cancelled, and the rider had been transported to the hospital with major injuries. The CHP feed was later updated to indicate that, as well.

Unfortunately, the good news didn’t last.

According to a story in the Desert Sun, 39-year old Travis Carroll was pronounced dead at 8:17 last night, after being hit by a van while riding on Avenue 42 in Bermuda Dunes. The collision occurred between Washington and Adams Streets at around 7:35.

The sparse description of the collision in the Desert Sun doesn’t really make sense.

The paper reports that Carroll was riding on the north side of the street, which suggests he would have been riding west if he was riding with traffic. He then reportedly began riding southeast, which would mean he either had to make a U-turn, or had actually been riding against traffic and drifted across the roadway before being struck by the west-bound van,

However, that raises the question of why he would cross the path of an oncoming vehicle which should have been clearly visible as he faced it — especially since the paper reports that alcohol does not seem to be a factor.

According to reports, the investigation is ongoing.

.………

The same day Encino endurance cyclist Jim Swarzman was laid to rest at Forrest Lawn, word came that the driver suspected of killing him was released from custody.

According to San Diego’s KGTV, Joseph Ricardo Fernandez was released at the last moment before being arraigned. Reportedly, the reason stemmed from the three day limit authorities have to file charges after taking the suspect into custody.

The station indicates that the delay is due to ongoing forensic work to ensure that Fernandez’ Dodge Ram 1500 pickup was in fact the vehicle that took Swarzman’s life; following that, the DA needs to be able to show that Fernandez was actually the one behind the wheel.

I would hope that they are also investigating his actions before the collision; I suspect they may find that he was drinking heavily.

The reports I’ve heard say the collision was extremely violent; I’ll spare you the details, but it would have been virtually impossible for the driver to have been unaware he hit something, putting to question Fernandez statement to the police that he thought he might have hit something.

Unless he was in a significantly altered state, the driver had to know damn well that he hit something, making his flight afterward a purely intentional — and illegal — act.

The investigation is ongoing, and I have no reason to believe the San Diego DA’s office isn’t taking this case very seriously. But we may want to keep on top of it, just in case.

.………

I’ve been on the run the last few weeks, and haven’t had a chance to update the ongoing legal cases (my apologies to cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels, who has done a great job of keeping me abreast of the ongoing cases).

Wheels reports that the trial has begun in the case of Marco Antonio Valencia, charged with killing Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring three other riders in an alcohol and drug-fueled hit-and-run.

The Signal reports on yesterday’s testimony from the surviving riders; it’s difficult to read, but offers the clearest picture yet what happened on that tragic day. Here’s one brief excerpt:

Chad Lewin, 25, was riding in front of Munana and Novotny during the ride.

As Lewin was riding around a right turn, he saw the bicyclist in front of him slam on his brakes abruptly.

To avoid crashing, Lewin testified that he swerved into the roadway to his left to avoid crashing.

In an instant, he was knocked to the ground by the truck. As he slid, Lewin said his skin was ripped off — in some instances to the muscle.

“As I was sliding backward, I saw Joe 20 feet in the air and hit the mountainside,” Lewin said.

Dj Wheels has been attending some of the court sessions, and offers these thoughts:

It appears that Valencia’s defense will mainly focus on avoiding the “Watson” 2nd degree murder charge by arguing that although he was awake and able to drive, he was not “conscious” of his actions and thus did not have the required specific intent for murder, which would be implied malice.

I don’t know all the case law on these types of DUI murder charges, but essentially Watson says when you have been previously convicted of DUI, you should know all ready that driving drunk can cause serious injury or death, which would establish the intent requirement of malice.  The CA legislature later enacted CVC 23103.5.  As a resulty, many county courts and district attorneys offices for several years now have required defendants to sign a declaration admitting that you acknowledge these risks and that you may be charged with murder if someone dies as a result of their drunk driving.  I believe this declaration can also be used as evidence.

However, under CA Jury Instructions 8.47 says “If you find that a defendant, while unconscious as a result of voluntary intoxication, killed another human being without intent to kill and without malice aforethought, the crime is involuntary manslaughter.”

So my guess is that the defense will try to establish that none of the witnesses actually saw the driver of the vehicle (specifically his face/body) in the seconds before the collision and during the collision in order to establish a reasonable doubt about whether he was indeed “conscious.” I think the only defense witness will be the expert who will testify that someone can be unconscious due to voluntary intoxication, but still be awake.
.………

As long as we’re on the subject of biking collisions and court cases, we might as well keep going.

Danae Marie Miller will be arraigned today on one count of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated in the death of world-class trialthlete Amine Britel in Newport Beach last month. She’s currently out on $100,000 bail.

.………

John Stesney reports that a pretrial hearing is scheduled next week in the death of local scientist and cyclist Doug Caldwell. The hearing for accused driver Gordon Catlett Wray will take place at the San Fernando Courthouse, 900 Third Street in the city of San Fernando, on Wednesday, April 20th at 8:30 am, case #0SR05313.

My sources indicate that despite numerous questions that have been raised that the defendant was using a cell phone at the time of the collision, the prosecutor either can’t get the records, or won’t request them for some reason — even though they could offer proof of distracted driving in fatal collision.

Maybe a few cyclists in the courtroom could stiffen the DA’s resolve, and show how seriously we’re taking this case.

.………

Dj Wheels reports that Shawn Fields was arraigned on March 30th for the heartbreaking hit-and-run death of 17-year old Danny Marin in Pacoima last year; a description of the injuries suffered by Marin — again, I’ll spare you the details — suggests another extremely violent collision.

Wheels offers some revealing testimony from the case:

According to the arresting officer, Fields was asleep at home by the time they arrived at the location where the vehicle was registered. He wouldn’t wake up at first after knocking and banging on the windows from where they could see him sleeping.  Fields also volunteered a statement before being taken to the police station that he shouldn’t have driven home because he had too much to drink at a wrap up party at the Roosevelt in Hollywood. He also saw many bottles of various alcoholic beverages inside Field’s house.

Also, the officer that administered the breath test at the station noted that his BAC was .14/.15 at about 4:15 a.m. The collision occurred about three hours earlier.

The investigating officer who interviewed Fields at the station also testified. Fields told him he got to the party around 10pm and drank a long island ice tea, a red label whiskey, a gin and tonic, beer and some water before leaving. After walking out, he had a bacon wrapped hot dog on the street, threw up on himself, debated whether to drive home, waited in his car for a while then finally drove.  He did not have a recollection of actually driving home, but recalled he may have hit something because he remembered being at a stop light close to home and looking at sparkly dust on his arms from the shattered front windshield.

.………

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 28th at 8:30 am in the San Bernardino Superior Court in the case of Patrick Roraff and Brett Michael Morin for the street racing death of pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado last April.

.………

A preliminary hearing is also scheduled for May 11th in the case of Stephanie Segal, charged in the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last October.

.………

Jim Lyle forwards news that Richard Schlickman, the cyclist critically injured when he lost control of his bike due to newly installed speed bumps in Palas Verdes Estates, is showing amazing progress and determination, and may be transferred to a rehab facility by the end of the month.

.………

Meanwhile, reports are that your prayers continue to be needed for Adam Rybicki, critically injured by an alleged underage drunk driver in Torrance on April 3rd.


A raft of legal cases — 5 deaths, 4 hit-and-runs, 1 drunken pop star and a justly jailed physician

February 4, 2011

I haven’t had a lot of opportunity lately to keep up with recent bike-related court cases, or even to update the Legal Cases page on my blog — something I’ll try to get to over the weekend.

Fortunately, local cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels continues to do an incredible job of keeping on top of what’s happening in our local courts, as well as with key trials across the country. This past week, he sent his latest update on some of the cases currently making their way through the courts.

My heartfelt thanks to Wheels, who has done more to keep the local cycling community informed than we could ever thank him for.

Shawn Fields – PA068775 (San Fernando)

Charged in the drunken hit-and-run death of 17-year old Daniel (Danny) Marin on Laurel Canyon Blvd in Pacoima on October 2nd of last year. While any cycling death leave me shaken, this is one that has hit me the hardest. Maybe it was the needless waste of a bright, well-loved young man; maybe it was because he reminds me of myself at that age. Or maybe just because I think I would have liked him if I’d ever had the chance.

Last hearing was held on January 21 – proof of compliance with discovery requests.  Although the Preliminary Hearing had all ready been scheduled for February 2, that hearing was advanced and continued to February 16 in Dept. 502 – Judge Olmedo.  Fields remains out of custody on bail.

Marco Antonio Valencia – PA065011 (San Fernando)

Valencia is charged with killing cyclist Joseph Novotny and seriously injuring two other riders in Santa Clarita’s Bouquet Canyon. He is accused of exhibiting a “willful, wanton disregard for human life,” by driving with a blood alcohol level of .18, as well as methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in his system at the time of the morning collision. After the wreck, he reportedly told a deputy to shoot him because his life was over; unfortunately, it was Novotny whose life was ended.

After numerous continuances of the trial date, Valencia will probably be on trial by the end of February for DUI/murder charges.  The next hearing is scheduled for February 14 as a 0 of 20 for Trial.  Valencia is still in custody.

Yelena Krupen – 0BV00450 (Beverly Hills)

Beverly Hills model Yelena Krupen was charged with fleeing the scene after hitting cyclist Brandon Chau on Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills, in a case that infuriated local cyclists by demonstrating just how hard it is to get justice if the rider isn’t critically injured.

She was sentenced on December 7 to 25 days county jail for misdemeanor hit and run property damage and driving on a suspended license charges, plus restitution to the victim.  She surrendered on December 27 to the women’s detention facility in Lynwood.  Her projected release date was January 6 according to the Sheriff’s inmate locator page, but it has not been updated with an actual release date.

Jose Luis Huerta Mundo – 10HM05193 (Newport Beach)

He’s charged in the death of popular OC cyclist Michael Nine, who was killed on a group ride when he collided with a truck driven by Mundo, who was in the country illegally after previously being deported. Mundo allegedly made an illegal turn on a blind corner; Nine was riding downhill at speed and was unable to avoid the truck.

Trial was held in mid November and the jury was hung.  Mundo is being re-tried.  Pre-trial conference is scheduled for February 7 and trial is tentatively scheduled for February 28.

Patrick Roraff – FSB1002475 (San Bernardino)

In another devastating case, rising pro racer Jorge Alvarado was killed shortly after moving from Mexico to the San Bernardino area to join the short-lived Bahati Foundation racing team. He was killed when Roraff was allegedly street racing another car driven by Brett Morin, who is also charged. Along with the fallout from fellow team member Floyd Landis’ doping accusations, Alvarado’s death helped destroy what had been a promising new pro team headed by a local riding hero who gives back to the community he grew up in. If you have the heart to handle it, read the heartbreaking Spanish language comments from those who knew and loved Alvarado.

Pre-Preliminary Hearing is scheduled for March 1 and Preliminary hearing for March 3.  Roraff remains out of custody on bail.

Carlos Bertonatti – F-10-001742  (Miami-Dade County, Florida)

Bertonatti is the Miami pop singer charged with killing cyclist Christophe Le Canne last year in yet another drunken hit-and-run, culminating in a police chase with Le Canne’s bike still lodged under his car. Bertonatti was still on the road despite racking up over 40 moving violations in the past 12 years.

Trial Hearing scheduled for February 22.  http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2010/12/carlos_bertonatti_released_on.php

Dr. Christopher Thompson – B221794 (L.A. Downtown Appellate Court)

The Good Doctor was convicted in the vehicular assault of two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon on the 4th of July in 2009. Not surprisingly, he is appealing his conviction.

Attorney General’s responsive brief is due March 1, with no further continuances.  Thompson remains in custody at Wasco State Prison.

In addition to the cases Wheels mentioned here, charges were recently filed against Stephanie Segal in the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills, and Patricia Ann Izquieta has pleaded guilty in the “drug addled” death of cyclist Donald Murphy in Newport Beach last year.


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