The trial is expected to begin in June for a Santa Barbara man accused of murder in a high-profile “car-surfing” incident last year.
Lanie Tyrone Richardson pleaded not guilty last November to charges of second-degree murder; manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence, causing great bodily injury to another person and with prior DUI convictions; DUI causing serious bodily injury with prior DUI convictions; and driving with a license that has been suspended or revoked due to DUI.
Prosecutors alleged at a preliminary hearing last year that Richardson, who has a lengthy record of DUI offenses, was under the influence and behind the wheel of an SUV in the early morning hours of June 6 while Allison Meadows, 26, and her friend, Lindsay Keebler, 25, were riding on the hood, engaging in a thrill-seeking activity known as car surfing.
With the vehicle traveling in excess of 70 mph, according to estimates by the California Highway Patrol, the two women were ejected onto East Valley Road in Montecito. Meadows died of major head injuries, and Keebler was seriously injured in the incident.
Deputy District Attorney Von Nguyen said Wednesday that trial call in the case is set for June 20. Public Defender Rafael Amezaga has been handling the case, but it may be reassigned because Amezaga is on leave for family reasons.
“The court left it up to the public defender to decide and determine whether Mr. Amezaga will try it or the matter will be reassigned,” Nguyen said.
Last fall’s preliminary hearing included law enforcement officers testifying that witnesses had told them the group, including Richardson, had consumed alcohol and drugs before the incident occurred.
No breath or blood tests were done on Richardson as police interviewed him after he reportedly drove Meadows to the hospital, however, and the case was turned over to CHP, which also neglected to measure Richardson’s blood alcohol level that morning.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Richardson would face up to 15 years to life in prison, a fine as high as $10,000 and a “strike” on his record under California’s three-strikes law. Additional prison time and fines could be tacked on for the other charges.
Richardson remains in the County Jail with bail set at $1 million.