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Bail-Revocation Hearing Set For Soap Actress Charged In DUI Crash Case

April 18 court appearance to hear evidence regarded alleged violation involving electronic alcohol monitor

Jensen Buchanan, right, listens to proceedings in Superior Court Wednesday. A bail-revocation hearing will be held later this month on allegations that the veteran soap opera actress tampered with her electronic alcohol-monitoring device while free from custody. Click to view larger
Jensen Buchanan, right, listens to proceedings in Superior Court Wednesday. A bail-revocation hearing will be held later this month on allegations that the veteran soap opera actress tampered with her electronic alcohol-monitoring device while free from custody. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A bail revocation hearing has been set for the veteran soap opera actress accused of tampering with her electronic alcohol-monitoring device while free from custody after being arrested on drunken driving charges following a major-injury crash in May.

Jensen Buchanan, 54, appeared Wednesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, where Judge Gustavo Lavayen and the attorneys set dates for future hearings.

Lavayen said he will hold the bail-revocation hearing on April 18 regarding allegations Buchanan tampered with her electronic monitoring device, which Buchanan’s attorneys have denied.

Additionally, the judge set the preliminary hearing for June 9, a possible sign that plea talks are not progressing.

Buchanan was charged in connection with the May 18 crash that critically injured Bradley Asolas, 56, on Highway 154 on May 18. 

Tests later revealed Buchanan had a blood-alcohol level of .34 — more than four times the level at which a driver is considered drunk under the law— after the 6:20 a.m. crash.

She faces several charges, including felony driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, and felony driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or greater. 

She also is charged with causing great bodily injury to Asolas, and an allegation her blood-alcohol level exceeded .15 percent.

Asolas now lives in Arizona, but was driving to work in Santa Maria from his brother's Camarillo residence at the time of the crash.

Defense attorneys contend Buchanan did not tamper with the electronic alcohol-monitoring device, and requested additional information about the allegation.

Buchanan reported to the office responsible for issuing the electronic devices about a potential problem defense attorney Meryl Chambers blamed on a 20-pound weight loss. 

“She has been diligent in her rehabilitation,” Chambers said. “She has been forthright, and any allegation coming from the people needs to be backed up with some discovery.”

Chambers and colleague Dmitry Gorin, who did not attend the latest hearing, are based in Los Angeles. 

As the judge tried to pin down future hearing dates, Chambers and Griselda Carreon, who stood in for Santa Barbara-based colleague Josh Lynn, debated schedules since they were standing in for the primary defense counsel.

“I have an army of attorneys appearing on behalf of Ms. Buchanan. Can one of those attorneys appear on the 18th?” the judge asked.

“Yes, your honor,” the defense responded. 

Buchanan has been accompanied to court by as many as three defense attorneys. 

Chief Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Gresser filled in for Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Dix for Wednesday’s hearing.

The judge also ordered preparation of a written report on the alleged  electronic-monitor violations for the bail-revocation hearing. 

The June 9 preliminary hearing is expected to last three hours, attorneys estimated.

While settlement talks reportedly are continuing, Buchanan’s attorneys said they sought a preliminary hearing date so the prosecution team didn’t feel like the defense was stalling. 

Last month, Dix said the District Attorney’s Office sought prison time for Buchanan while defense attorneys pushed for probation with a possibility of putting the matter before the judge to say what he thought would be an appropriate punishment.

That topic did not come up in court Wednesday.

Asolas, the other driver in the crash, spent more than a month in the hospital after the crash and has had numerous complications, preventing him from returning to work and regular life.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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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