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DA’s Office to Retry Tony Denunzio on DUI Charge

The Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that it will retry DUI defendant Tony Denunzio, whose case resulted in a mistrial this week.

Tony Denunzio
Tony Denunzio

Denunzio, of Santa Barbara, was arrested in October 2011 in a traffic stop that was caught on video in the arresting officer’s patrol car.

The Santa Maria Superior Court jury was deadlocked earlier this week in the case. Defense attorney Darryl Genis successfully argued to get the second count — driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher — thrown out.

“Although members of our community disagree regarding the events that occurred during the arrest of Mr. Denunzio — some believing he unlawfully resisted arrest, while others believing he was the victim of excessive force — that issue, although significant in its own right, does not control the issue of whether Mr. Denunzio was driving under the influence,” District Attorney Joyce Dudley said. “Clearly, the crime of driving under the influence can destroy lives and those who do drive under the influence should be held accountable. Therefore, given the present state of evidence in this case, I believe it is our responsibility to retry this defendant.”

Jurors were hung 8-4 in favor of guilt, Deputy District Attorney Mai Trieu said.

Denunzio was found guilty Thursday on the remaining charge of driving with a suspended license, which was separated from the DUI case.

Denunzio was pulled over by Santa Barbara police Officer Aaron Tudor on suspicion of DUI after allegedly changing lanes without signaling on Las Positas. He has been spotted earlier leaving Arroyo Burro Beach, where he had a cocktail at the Boathouse Restaurant.

Statements released by the police said Tudor couldn’t get Denunzio to get on the ground and put his arms behind his back to be handcuffed and was resisting arrest, so the contact escalated from a hand on the arm to a trip, hand and knee strikes, and using a Taser multiple times.

Tudor and police officials say Denunzio was resisting arrest, while Denunzio and a number of eyewitnesses say he was not resisting and have alleged that Tudor used excessive force.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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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