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Bill Macfadyen: In Closely Followed Case, ‘Car-Surfing’ Defendant Ordered to Stand Trial

Best of Noozhawk 09.07.12 mourns the death of Alex Tang, breaks a fatal shooting in Orcutt, waves away smoke from a Goleta fire — and is left with David Attias

What were you reading on Noozhawk this past week?

1. Richardson Ordered to Trial for Murder in Car-Surfing Death

After a three-day preliminary hearing filled with riveting testimony, a Santa Barbara man was ordered to stand trial for second-degree murder and other felony charges related to the death of a woman who was killed while “car-surfing” atop the vehicle he was driving.

Lanie Tyrone Richardson
Lanie Tyrone Richardson

According to law-enforcement investigators’ testimony, Allison Meadows, 26, and her friend, Lindsay Keebler, 25, were riding on the hood of an SUV driven by Lanie Tyrone Richardson, 28, early on the morning of June 6. Officers said the trio — and another man, Connor Clowers, 29, of Santa Barbara — was engaged in the idiotic “thrill-seeking” activity while Richardson raced along Montecito’s dark and narrow East Valley Road at speeds in excess of 70 mph.

Both women were ejected from the vehicle; Meadows died of major head injuries while Keebler was seriously injured. To make matters worse, authorities say, Richardson, Clowers and Keebler then hatched a plan to claim the two women had been struck by a hit-and-run driver, the two men happened upon the scene and, just as any “good Samaritans” would do, rather than calling 9-1-1 they loaded everyone in their truck and drove to the hospital.

Prosecutors allege that Richardson, who has a lengthy record of DUI offenses, was under the influence at the time. According to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Andrew Chapman, Clowers acknowledged that all four participants were under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.

CHP Officer Craig Rude testified that investigators’ reconstruction of the incident estimated that Richardson was driving anywhere from 70 to 92 mph. Noozhawk’s Lara Cooper reported that scuff marks on the roadway from Meadows’ boots indicated her body rolled 231 feet from where she first hit the pavement. To put that in perspective, go down to the Santa Barbara waterfront and gaze out at the USS Halsey lying at anchor about a mile offshore. The guided-missile destroyer is 509 feet long. Meadows rolled nearly half the ship’s length.

Additionally, officers say that far from being strangers to one another, earlier in the evening all four participants left the Lower State Street dive bar, Whiskey Richard’s, together for more partying — and the aforementioned cocaine — in Summerland.

Richardson has pleaded not guilty to the charges but Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona ordered him to return to court for a Sept. 20 arraignment. Until then, he remains at the County Jail with bail set at $1 million.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Richardson faces up to 15 years to life in prison, a fine as high as $10,000 and a “strike” on his record under California’s “three-strikes” law. Additional prison time and fines could be tacked on for the other charges.

2. Alexandra Joyce Tang, 1988-2012

It was an obituary no sister — and newlywed — should ever have to write at such a young age, but Candice Tang Nyholt’s touching tribute to her sister, Alex Tang, is continuing to draw readers.

Alex Tang
Alex Tang

“Sandra (Alex) was such a spirited girl,” Nyholt wrote for her grief-stricken family. “She was full of life and love. She had an exciting future ahead of her and no words can fully express how much she’ll be missed by all.”

Tang, 24, was killed Sept. 1 in Laguna Hills. Her 25-year-old boyfriend was arrested the next day in Mesa, Ariz., on suspicion of murder.

The case remains under investigation and Orange County authorities are seeking the suspect’s extradition from Arizona.

Tang, the daughter of Elizabeth and Alexander Tang DDS of Santa Barbara, graduated from Bishop Diego High School and earned a psychology degree from UCSB. At the time of her death, she was working in Orange County with children with autism.

Click here to visit Tang’s memorial page on Facebook. For more information, contact Nyholt at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 805.364.2615.

3. Man Dead, Woman Critically Wounded in Orcutt Shooting

A family dispute at an Orcutt park turned deadly Sept. 3 when a Santa Maria man allegedly shot his parents, killing his father, and then fled to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. Authorities tracked down the suspect at the hospital and arrested him without incident.

Brian Keith Reid
Brian Keith Reid

Brian Keith Reid, 40, was charged Sept. 5 with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, personal use of a firearm and infliction of great bodily injury, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley told Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton, who had the initial story hours before anyone else on Labor Day.

William Reid, 73, was fatally wounded in the shooting at Orcutt Community Park and his wife, Pamela, 66, was critically wounded.

As of Friday, the cause of the incident remained under investigation.

4. Smoky Fire Chars Trees in Goleta

There was a lot of smoke, but, thankfully, not much fire from a blaze that ignited in a Goleta eucalyptus grove on the afternoon of Sept. 3 near Santa Felicia Drive and Highway 101.

According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the fire apparently started in what appeared to be a homeless camp. Smoke billowed across the freeway but the flames were brought under control quickly and without serious damage or injuries.

Given locals’ skittishness around wildfire, especially at this time of year, it’s not surprising that executive editor Tom Bolton’s story was still getting traffic two days later.

5. Judge Grants Conditional Release to Ex-UCSB Student Who Killed 4

David Attias
David Attias

David Attias has spent the last 10 years of his life incarcerated at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino. Now 30, the former UCSB student was declared legally insane and convicted of four counts of second-degree murder stemming from a 2001 rampage in which he plowed his car down a crowded Isla Vista street, killing four young people and injuring another.

After a weeks-long hearing and considerable deliberation, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Tom Adams on Sept. 4 acquiesced to a petition from Attias and granted him a conditional release so he could move to an unlocked community outpatient program.

Attias’ victims — Nicholas Bourdakis, Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy, who died, and Albert Levy, the lone survivor — weren’t afforded a similar opportunity to better their fate.

                                                                  •        •        •

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