Monday, June 18 , 2018, 9:04 am | Fair 62º


Local News

Drunken Driver Sentenced to 35 Years in Death of Santa Barbara Runner

Gregory Doan pledges to donate pay he earns in jail to charity

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona’s courtroom was packed Tuesday morning as she handed down a sentence for Gregory Doan, 58, who pleaded no contest last month to 19 charges of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a Santa Barbara runner along Las Positas Road in August 2008.

Doan, 58, received a 35-year prison term, and he’ll never again be allowed to have a driver’s license.

Doan was arrested after the white van he was driving swiped a group of runners, killing one of them — 66-year-old Carolyn Samuels. The runners were part of a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training group.

Doan, who initially fled the scene, was found to be under the influence of alcohol.

The scene in the courtroom Tuesday was emotional as Samuels’ two daughters, and later Doan himself, spoke about the tragic incident.

“The defendant was very passionate about doing all he can to help the victim’s family,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley, who prosecuted the case. “It was very emotional — a very sad case.”

Although by law the state can garnish only 50 percent of the wages Doan earns in prison for victim restitution, Doan pledged that the rest of his pay will be donated to the Leukemia Society. His girlfriend — who attended the sentencing hearing among a crowd of Samuels’ friends, family and fellow runners — donated $100 to the organization.

Before 2008, Doan had been convicted of four DUIs, one of which — a 1992 incident in Lassen County — resulted in another person’s injury. When arrested for a DUI in 2008, Doan had been found to have opiates in his system, and his blood alcohol level was 0.21 percent, or about three times the legal limit.

Dudley said that although Doan has been in alcohol and drug counseling in the Santa Barbara County Jail, whether that treatment continues depends on the state prison he’s assigned. Many treatment programs in California’s prisons were cut amid the state’s budget crisis.

Under his plea agreement, Doan accepted 19 strikes in the state’s three-strikes system, meaning that if he is convicted of a felony after he is released on parole — which Dudley said is likely to be in 17 years, based on the state’s budget outlook — he will return to prison for 25 years to life.

Dudley said that in coming up with an appropriate sentence, the vehicular manslaughter charge was preferable to murder because of its requirement that Doan’s driving privileges be permanently revoked.

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

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