A Santa Barbara man accused of murder in a high-profile “car-surfing” incident earlier this year appeared in Santa Barbara County Superior Court this week and entered a not-guilty plea to several felony charges.
A trial date will be set in December for Lanie Tyrone Richardson, who is facing 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 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.
The 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.
In September, Judge Jean Dandona ruled that enough evidence had been presented by prosecutors to warrant a trial for Richardson on all the charges filed against him.
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.
Prosecutor Von Nguyen said the next court date for Richardson will be Dec. 13, and a trial date will be set at that time.
Richardson remains in the County Jail with bail set at $1 million.