Friday, October 9 , 2015, 7:24 am | Fair 66º

DUI Suspect in Fatal Crash Has History of Drug Problems, Court Records Show

Kimberly Ann Kreis, 52, of Santa Barbara is accused in Highway 101 collision that killed 3 people and critically injured another

Kimberly Ann Kreis, 52, of Santa Barbara, is taken into custody on DUI charges early Monday after being involved in a Highway 101 crash that killed three people and critically injured another.
Kimberly Ann Kreis, 52, of Santa Barbara, is taken into custody on DUI charges early Monday after being involved in a Highway 101 crash that killed three people and critically injured another.  (Urban Hikers photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

A woman charged with DUI in a collision that killed three young people and critically injured a fourth has a history of substance abuse, and had been in and out of rehab programs before facing a prison sentence, according to court records.

Kimberly Ann Kreis

Kimberly Ann Kreis, 52, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on DUI charges after her vehicle slammed into the left side of a car that had crashed into the center divider and overturned early Monday on Highway 101 in Santa Barbara.

Three people were killed — Danielle Nicole Murillo and Jessica Lee Leffew, both 17 and from Torrance, and Brian Adonay Lopez, 20, of Los Angeles, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Erick Hoel August, 20, of Los Angeles, the driver of the vehicle struck by Kreis, was critically injured in the crash.

Kreis, who suffered only minor injuries, was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, but reportedly has been released on $100,000 bail.

The CHP has not provided any details about the nature and level of Kreis’ alleged intoxication.

However, Santa Barbara County Superior Court records show several felony charges against Kreis in the 1990s, and document a history of substance abuse.

Court files show that on Dec. 30, 1997, Kreis was arrested for alleged possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The transcript of proceedings from Judge Frank Ochoa’s courtroom show that Kreis admitted she was dependent on alcohol.

The records indicate that Kreis had been kicked out of one sober-living program at the time, had been late for periodic drug testing and also turned in dirty tests, leading authorities to believe she was still drinking while in treatment there.

The transcript shows that the county Probation Department was recommending Kreis receive a term of three years in state prison, the upper sentence for the possession charges, because of her history with probation violations and failure to complete treatment programs.

Kreis admitted to relapsing after several treatment programs, including one at the Betty Ford Center and another at St. John’s, and she had been on probation six times from 1992 to 1998, prosecutor Gary Gemberling said at the time.

During the hearing, Kreis’ father, Ray Anderson of Westlake Village, was called to the stand, and was questioned by both Gemberling and Kreis’ attorney, Rick Barron of the Public Defender’s Office.

Anderson told the court that he and his wife had taken Kreis into rehab more than 15 years before to help their daughter deal with substance abuse.

“Kim has lost at least a minimum of 10 years of her life to her addictions,” he said.

After each program thus far, he said, his daughter had relapsed.

Barron himself admitted that Kreis “was no stranger to anyone in this room,” referring to the county’s substance abuse treatment court.

Ochoa eventually agreed with the Probation Department’s recommendation of prison time for Kreis, but it was not clear how much time she spent behind bars.

Another court file features a Jan. 29, 1997, Santa Barbara Police Department report that details the arrest of Kreis after she was discovered with another person at The Franciscan Inn in Santa Barbara with drugs and paraphernalia.

She was on probation from a case in Ventura County at the time, the arresting officer noted, and police found a half-gram of methamphetamine under her shirt and paraphernalia in her purse, as well as two syringes in her car.

Kreis pleaded guilty in that case and was sentenced to felony probation for three years and 180 days in jail, court records show.

Court records in Ventura County also show that Kries was ordered to a court treatment program there after a 1994 charge.

The investigation of Monday’s wreck is continuing, CHP Officer Jonathan Gutierrez told Noozhawk on Wednesday.

The agency has brought in a multidisciplinary accident investigation team that is doing forensic analysis on the case. It’s the same team that worked to reconstruct the scene of the fatal Montecito car-surfing incident that claimed the life of 26-year-old Allison Meadows in 2012.

Gutierrez said the team worked all day Wednesday analyzing the two vehicles involved in Monday’s crash, trying to determine how they collided and at what angles, speed and other details.

Next week, investigators will be conducting vehicle inspections on both cars, looking at everything from wheels to headlights to “rule out any malfunction of property,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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