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Thursday, January 17 , 2019, 5:49 am | Light Rain Fog/Mist 60º


Arraignment in Paula Lopez DUI Case Delayed Again

The criminal DUI case against former Santa Barbara television news anchor Paula Lopez Ochoa is expected to move forward next week — either with a plea deal or a trial date.

Chief Deputy District Attorney John Savrnoch said Friday he anticipated a trial date would be set next Friday if a plea deal is not reached.

Despite earlier warnings to the attorneys, Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderle allowed yet another continuance from Friday’s hearing.

Because Savrnoch was promoted last month by county District Attorney Joyce Dudley when Assistant District Attorney Gordon Auchincloss retired, Deputy District Attorney Megan Chanda has taken over prosecution of the case.

Lopez, a former KEYT and KCOY television news anchor, was arrested Sept. 7 in a Goleta parking lot and charged with six misdemeanors, including driving under the influence; driving with a blood-alcohol content over .15; resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer; and two counts of battery on a peace officer.

The California Highway Patrol received a report of a silver Toyota Prius driving the wrong way on northbound Highway 101 near El Capitán State Beach west of Goleta, and found the alleged car in the Sandpiper Golf Club parking lot, where Lopez was evaluated and arrested.

Anderle granted a continuance in March so Savrnoch and defense attorney Steven Andrade could continue negotiating a plea deal.

The judge gave both sides an ultimatum to move the case along, since it’s been continued for more than six months without arraignment.

Savrnoch, who was working out of the District Attorney’s Office in Lompoc, was chosen to prosecute the case to avoid a potential conflict of interest since Lopez is married to retired Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa.

Savrnoch’s new job reassigns him to the Santa Barbara office.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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