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Vehicular Manslaughter

By Joseph Serna, | July 22, 2010
Hours after friends and family held a memorial service Thursday for a bicyclist killed in a Newport Beach traffic accident last week, prosecutors announced that the driver of the involved truck will be arraigned on manslaughter charges Friday. Jose Luis Huerta Mundo, 38, is charged with vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, a misdemeanor, and driving without a valid license. He is accused of turning left illegally on Spyglass Hill Road, a maneuver that caused bicyclist Michael Nine, 43, of Santa Ana, to try and swerve out of the way, hitting Mundo's truck.
September 20, 2007
A 37-year-old Irvine man who police say struck and killed an Irvine woman in a car accident in Newport Beach in May has been charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, prosecutors said Wednesday. On May 2, Frank Felipponio was southbound on East Coast Highway when his 2007 Mustang GT skidded off the road more than 100 feet, striking personal trainer, Lori Rae Jamieson, who was walking the trails of Crystal Cove State Park with a friend, police said. Felipponio attempted to switch from second to third gear, but shifted into first gear by mistake, sending the car into a spin, police said.
May 21, 2008
by Joseph Serna and Daniel Tedford Janene Johns’ daughter howled in shock Wednesday after her mother was found guilty of killing Costa Mesa teacher Candace Tift in a car accident two years ago. Then Lauren Johns fell into sobs as she hugged her mother before she was led off into custody. Meanwhile, Tift’s family members applauded the verdict as it was read in the courtroom, and several cried with joy. Johns, 53, of Irvine was found guilty on all counts after hitting Tift with her Lexus Aug. 23, 2006 as Tift was riding her bike.
By Joseph Serna | January 5, 2010
Police have identified 18-year-old Luicci Nader of Huntington Beach as the driver of the Ferrari that crashed on East Coast Highway near Jamboree Road on Dec. 24. Nader, who remains in critical condition at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana and is unable to speak, was driving the sports car west on East Coast Highway with his relative, Ralph Abinader, 24, in the passenger seat about 5:12 p.m. Police said the Ferrari, a gray 2008 F-430 Spider,...
By Lauren Vane | August 10, 2006
A Costa Mesa woman whose 6-year-old son was killed in a car crash was charged today with vehicular manslaughter, child abuse and endangerment, and felony drunk driving causing bodily injury. The arraignment for Julie Ann Smith, 46, was scheduled for Aug. 24 after she appeared in court today. Prosecutors say Smith was driving drunk and speeding when she drove her Lexus sedan on the shoulder of the Corona del Mar (73) Freeway Tuesday night. While attempting to pass cars on the right, Smith struck the guardrail and her son, Trevor Smith, was ejected from the car, authorities said.
June 12, 2007
The woman who was charged in the death of Eastbluff Elementary School teacher Candace Tift pleaded not guilty Monday in Orange County Superior Court. Janene Johns, 53, of Irvine is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and driving under the influence. Her pre-trial is expected to begin June 29 at Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach. Johns was arrested Aug. 23 after a car allegedly driven by her veered onto the sidewalk and struck Tift, who was riding a bicycle with her dog on a leash.
February 14, 2008
The trial for an Irvine woman charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal accident that killed an Eastbluff Elementary School teacher in 2006 has been rescheduled for April 14, court records show. Jury selection for Janene Johns, 53, was scheduled for Monday but had to be delayed because of scheduling conflicts for her lawyer, Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Mestman said. Johns pleaded not guilty June 11 to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and driving under the influence and causing injury.
December 16, 2011
An Irvine driver who had taken methamphetamines was convicted of vehicular manslaughter Thursday, prosecutors said. Laurie Anne Keen, 43, was convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter, a misdemeanor count of taking a controlled substance and driving without insurance, an infraction, the Orange County District Attorney said in a press release. About 1:21 p.m. Jan. 18, Keen was driving in a Chevrolet van on Culver Drive approaching Farwell Avenue when she drove through a red light and crashed into 77-year-old Patricia Thompson-Yates, who died of multiple blunt traumatic injuries about 43 minutes later, the release said.
By Joseph Serna, | February 8, 2011
An Anaheim man who illegally turned left in front of a group of bicyclists in Newport Beach last year, causing one rider to fatally slam into the side of his truck, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter. Jose Luis Huerta Mundo, 38, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, meaning he didn't know his action could kill someone, and was sentenced to 360 days in jail Monday. Mundo was driving his landscaping truck on Spyglass Hill Road in Corona del Mar on July 15 when he made an illegal left turn onto Harbor Ridge Drive.
March 5, 2014
A man accused of accidentally killing a bicyclist in Newport Beach pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter last week at the Harbor Justice Center. Robert Anderson, 84, of Irvine, was driving west on East Coast Highway, just east of Newport Coast Drive, on the afternoon of Aug. 27 when he and the cyclist collided, Newport Beach police said at the time. The cyclist, Debra Deem, 58, of Laguna Beach, suffered major head trauma, despite wearing a helmet, police said. Paramedics took her to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where she died the next day. In the charging document filed against Anderson on Jan. 17, prosecutors say he made an unsafe lane change that caused Deem's death.
January 24, 2014
The Orange County district attorney's office last week filed a misdemeanor charge against the driver of a minivan involved in a Newport Beach traffic collision that killed a bicyclist this summer. Robert Anderson was driving west on East Coast Highway just east of Newport Coast Drive on the afternoon of Aug. 27 when he and the cyclist collided, Newport Beach police said at the time. Anderson, 84, lives in Irvine, according to public records. The cyclist, Debra Deem, 58, of Laguna Beach, suffered major head trauma despite wearing a helmet, police said.
By KTLA News | September 25, 2013
A 39-year-old Irvine woman was arrested on suspicion of killing a cyclist while driving under the influence of prescription drugs, authorities said Wednesday. Hasti Fakhrai-Bayrooti had been detained after her car collided with cyclist Eric Billings, 54, killing him, according to a news release from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The collision occurred on March 15 on Santa Margarita Parkway south of El Toro Road, near Trabuco Hills High School, the sheriff's department said.
September 19, 2013
A Costa Mesa man was sentenced this week to four years and four months in state prison for killing his brother and injuring his nephew in a drunk driving crash, the Orange County district attorney's office announced Thursday. Felix Jacobo Brito, 37, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court to one felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence, one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a license, according to the release.
By Jeremiah Dobruck | April 24, 2013
Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle on Tuesday blasted the recent sentencing of a driver who killed a popular doctor in a September hit-and-run accident. Michael Jason Lopez, 40, of Anaheim was sentenced this month after pleading guilty to killing Catherine "Kit" Campion Ritz, who practiced in Newport and lived in Irvine, while she was bicycling along Newport Coast in September. Four years in prison and one year in county jail is too light a sentence for a man who left the doctor in the street to die, Daigle said during the oral reports portion of Tuesday's council meeting.
By Jeremiah Dobruck | April 19, 2013
Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) has shelved a bill inspired by the death of a Newport Beach doctor that would have upped the penalty in fatal hit-and-run cases. Assembly Bill 956 would have mandated an extra five years behind bars for hit-and-run motorists convicted of vehicular manslaughter. He pulled it from a committee hearing last week because California's Legislature has not been passing new regulations that add prison time, said Chad Morgan, Mansoor's chief of staff.
By Lauren Williams | April 12, 2013
A motorist pleaded guilty Friday to accidentally hitting and killing a Newport Beach doctor as she bicycled with her husband along Newport Coast, court records show. Michael Jason Lopez, 40, of Anaheim, admitted in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana to one felony count of injury hit-and-run and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence. He was sentenced to four years in prison and one year in county jail. Catherine "Kit" Campion Ritz, 57, of Irvine, died in the Sept.
By Jill Cowan | March 13, 2013
Hit-and-run drivers convicted of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence could face up to five more years behind bars if a bill proposed by Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) makes it through the Legislature. Assembly Bill 956, which was introduced Feb. 22, would fix what Mansoor spokesman Saulo Londono called a legal "loophole" that "almost encourages" drivers to flee. Mansoor's staff say it's harder to prove gross negligence after the fact. "I understand that accidents can and will occur," Mansoor said in a statement, "but I also believe in giving judges additional tools for sentencing those who run from the responsibility of remaining at the scene of the crime.
October 5, 2012
A driver accused of hitting and killing a doctor as she biked with her husband in Newport Coast pleaded not guilty Friday in Orange County Superior Court, according to a court official. Michael Jason Lopez, 39, of Anaheim, faces one count of felony hit-and-run causing permanent and serious injury and one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter, court records show. Lopez stands accused of colliding with 57-year-old Dr. Catherine "Kit" Campion Ritz on Newport Coast Drive on Sept.
September 25, 2012
A public service is scheduled for a Newport Beach doctor who was killed while riding her bike along Newport Coast Drive, according to Greater Newport Physicians. The public celebration of life for Dr. Catherine "Kit" Campion Ritz is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 6 at Mariners Church Community Center, said Amanda Weig, Greater Newport Physicians' director of marketing and public relations. Mariners Church is at 5001 Newport Coast Drive in Irvine. Family members of Campion Ritz have asked that in lieu of flowers, people donate to the Semper Fi Fund, Casa Teresa, Wounded Warrior Project or St. Kieran Catholic School in El Cajon, Weig said.
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