Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:26 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º

 
 
 
 

Johnigan Gets 15-Year Sentence in Crash that Killed DA Investigator

The Santa Barbara woman was convicted of murder and vehicular manslaughter in September

Ashley Johnigan, the 24-year-old Santa Barbara resident who was convicted in the death of Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office investigator Laura Cleaves, was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday.

Johnigan was convicted in September of second-degree murder and vehicular manslaughter in the May 2008 crash that killed Cleaves, a senior investigator with the District Attorney’s Office.

Johnigan crashed head-on into Cleaves while both were driving on Highway 154 near the intersection of Highway 246 in Santa Ynez. The prosecution maintained that Johnigan had been drinking heavily at a Santa Ynez bar, and a 9-1-1 caller had alerted California Highway Patrol officers that a driver in a black Mercedes-Benz was possibly drunk.

Cleaves, 53, died at the scene, and a third motorist was injured in the fiery crash.

Cleaves had been an employee of the District Attorney’s Office since 1984, and her murder case was prosecuted by an attorney from the state Attorney General’s Office.

At the time of her death, Cleaves had been investigating Orson Mozes, who ran a Montecito-based adoption company and pleaded guilty earlier this year to fraud charges. He is now serving a three-year prison sentence.

Cleaves was married to sheriff’s Sgt. Steven Cleaves, and they were the parents of two grown daughters.

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

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.