Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 6:34 am | Fair 43º


Local News

Santa Barbara DUI Case Gets a Signature Moment Over Alleged Forgeries

Defendant Peter Lance, officer provide handwriting samples for experts to analyze

As part of a driving under the influence criminal case, handwriting experts will analyze Santa Barbara police documents that the defendant alleges are forgeries.

Peter Lance, 63, of Santa Barbara, is facing a misdemeanor DUI charge in Santa Barbara County Superior Court as a result of his arrest early on Jan. 1. He claims he never signed a Trombetta blood and urine waiver, although his name appears on one.

A freelance writer, Lance has questioned the credibility of his arresting officer, Santa Barbara police Officer Kasi Beutel, in a series he wrote for the Santa Barbara News-Press. His defense attorney, Darryl Genis, has brought four other witnesses forward who also allege that their signatures were forged on their Trombetta waiver police documents.

Beutel and the Santa Barbara Police Department have denied the allegations.

Judge Brian Hill had Lance, Beutel and the four defense witnesses each sign 22 copies of the waiver document in open court. The material then will be distributed among handwriting experts to discern whether there’s evidence of forgery. The experts will also receive known copies of the individuals’ signatures from canceled checks, tax returns and other documents.

Deputy District Attorney Sanford Horowitz and Chief Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer are prosecuting the case and asked for a protective order, restraining anyone involved in the case from disseminating information from those private documents examined during the handwriting analysis. Hill ordered that information from Beutel’s documents obtained outside of court not be released.

Genis and the prosecution each have experts who will examine the signatures over the next few weeks.

Hill noted there is a lot of information in the public eye — “an extraordinary amount for this type of case,” he said — and he said it’s possible there will be a change of venue to counteract the pre-trial publicity. With a general time waiver, however, it’s less of an issue since the case can go to trial months from now.

“This court has the obligation to have a case tried before a jury that decides based on evidence in the courtroom and nothing else,” Hill said.

Lance, who is left-handed, signed copies of the waivers in court Friday. Next, Beutel, who is right-handed, signed 22 copies in her own name then signed some in Lance’s name, although she didn’t look at a copy of his signature in court before doing so. The prosecution’s expert wanted Beutel to attempt to sign Lance’s name since he alleges Beutel forged his signature.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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