The 19-year-old woman who pleaded no contest to accessory to murder in the April stabbing death of Robert Simpson at Arroyo Burro Beach was released from custody at the Santa Barbara County Jail after appearing in court on Tuesday.
Brittany Weiler, who faces a possible sentence of up to seven years in prison for her no-contest plea to accessory to murder with a gang enhancement, had her sentencing continued until February.
Judge Brian Hill ruled that she could be released on her own recognizance, as requested by defense attorney Doug Hayes.
After discussions about her family history and criminal history, the court determined that Weiler was not a substantial public safety risk, Hill said. Reports from jail on her behavior were positive as well, he said. Examination of court documents show that both of her parents have extensive criminal records.
Weiler allegedly was behind the wheel of the car that accused murderer Adrian Robles and two others drove away in after Simpson was fatally stabbed. Robles, who has pleaded not guilty to murder and the special allegations, has not yet gone to trial.
Hill said there’s an understanding that his trial will go forward “without any interference by Weiler.”
There are conditions to Weiler’s release, such as avoiding any contact with witnesses in the case, known gang members or associates, and going to the westside of Santa Barbara. She may be fitted for an electronic monitoring device, Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer said.
Dozer objected to Weiler’s release, as did Simpson’s family, saying it sent the wrong message to the community as she has not yet been sentenced and her crime was committed to benefit a street gang. He said it makes some sense to continue the sentencing until after the trial, as more facts will become apparent in the case.
“My expectation is that someone involved in a murder, even as an accessory, would be sentenced to prison,” Dozer said.
Weiler has not waived her Fifth Amendment right, so she can’t be called to testify in the Robles trial by either side. The juvenile also charged as an accessory, Vanessa Ochoa, has since turned 18 and testified in the preliminary hearing. Her case has been resolved, though Dozer couldn’t give specifics since it was in juvenile court.
A trial date has not been scheduled yet for Robles.