A Lompoc woman is now facing murder charges for allegedly driving while intoxicated in an incident that led to a multivehicle collision and the death of a 68-year-old Buellton woman near the Chumash Casino Resort last week.
Rebecca Sandoval, 37, of Lompoc had been charged with felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony driving under the influence of drugs causing bodily injury, but as of Monday, is now facing a murder charge, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office.
Sandoval is also charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs arising from a separate incident on July 11, 2013.
Sandoval was arrested in the three-vehicle collision, which occurred about 2:10 p.m. near the intersection of Casino Drive and Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley, according to County Fire Capt. David Sadecki.
The wreck occurred when an eastbound Jeep Wrangler driven by Sandoval slammed into the rear of a Toyota Highlander — driven by Wall — that was slowing for a red light ahead, the CHP told Noozhawk last week. Sandoval was traveling at an unsafe speed, the CHP said, and the force of the impact drove the Highlander into the rear of an already stopped Chevy Equinox.
Wall suffered major injuries and required CPR, Sadecki said. She was revived at the scene before being transported via a CalStar helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she later died, the CHP said.
Simona Mikusova, 28, was also injured during the incident. Sandoval was uninjured in the incident.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley told Noozhawk last week that a "Watson murder" charge was among the possibilities. The “Watson murder” term is derived from a 1981 state Supreme Court case — People v. Watson — which established that, in some circumstances, a person who kills someone while driving under the influence can be charged with murder and/or manslaughter.
Sandoval's arraignment took place in Department 9 of the Santa Maria Superior Court.