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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 2:07 pm | Fair 63º


Driver Pleads Guilty in Fatal Hit-and-Run Near Earl Warren Showgrounds

Jon Steffan Peters is sentenced to five years in prison for the collision that killed two Santa Barbara residents

Jon Steffan Peters, arrested in the Jan. 16 hit-and-run collision on Las Positas Road near the Earl Warren Showgrounds that killed two Santa Barbara residents, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of felony hit-and-run and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Jon Steffan Peters
Jon Steffan Peters

Santa Barbara residents Alan Garcia, 38, and girlfriend Elizabeth Contreras, 36, known by family and friends as Lisa Lovato, died of injuries sustained in the collision.

According to Santa Barbara police, a witness reported seeing Peters’ van leaving the scene, and police later traced the van to a registered sex offender required to wear a monitoring device.

Peters was taken into custody, and police said there was no evidence he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Peters admitted to leaving the scene of a fatal traffic collision.

Peters, who is now a reoffender within five years of being released, will get a maximum sentence of five years — four for the felony and one for reoffending.

News of the deaths of Garcia and Lovato rocked the community, and many have been left wondering whether the sentencing is adequate.

Evidence gathered through the police investigation couldn’t link Peters to any traffic violations, leaving him guilty only of fleeing the scene, according to Arnis Tolks, the deputy district attorney handling the case.

“That’s all that the law provides for,” he said of Judge Rick Brown’s sentence for Peters.

“They knew what the charges were and were willing to plead to the max,” he said of Peters and his legal team.

Tolks said the police investigation could continue and that things could change in the future — if the investigation yields new evidence. He said a blood test taken from Peters still hasn’t returned with results on his blood alcohol level.

“But at this point, there weren’t any indications of high speeds or drug or alcohol use,” he said. “This guy’s biggest mistake was that he left the scene of the crime.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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