Friday, October 19 , 2018, 7:40 am | Fair 49º


Federal Criminal Trial Delayed for Driver Charged With Lompoc Couple’s Death

The federal criminal trial for a man accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, causing a crash that killed a Lompoc couple in August 2016, has been delayed another three months.

Instead of late March, the trial for Shaquille Lindsey of Covington, Georgia, has been pushed back to June 19, with a status conference set for June 4 in the Central District of California.

“The Court finds that the ex parte application … demonstrates facts that support a continuance of the trial date in this matter, and provides good cause for finding excludable time pursuant to the Speedy Trial Act,” the order signed by federal Judge Christina A. Snyder states.

Lindsey is facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of driving under the combined influence of alcohol and marijuana on Aug. 28, 2016.

He allegedly drove his car into oncoming traffic and collided head on with the victims’ vehicle, causing the death of the driver, Ruben Betancourt, 51, and his wife, Bertha, 57.

A son, Juan Betancourt, was seriously injured in the crash.

An indictment handed down by a federal grand jury 10 months after the crash alleges that at 12:30 p.m., Lindsey was driving more than 15 mph above the speed limit on Santa Lucia Road when his vehicle veered into the oncoming lane and slammed into the Betancourts’ car.

Lindsey formerly served in the Air Force and was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base during his military career.

He reportedly had returned to the Central Coast to visit friends the weekend of the crash to celebrate his birthday.

The Air Force claimed the crash occurred in their jurisdiction and remained mum about the circumstances surrounding the double-fatal collision.

Lindsey’s attorneys, David Sutton and Andre Townsend, from the federal Deputy Public Defenders Office, cited a number of factors for the request, including the fact they have trials for their other cases.

They also said additional time is needed to complete an independent investigation of the case, retain any necessary experts to testify at trial, and re-test a blood sample that was previously tested by the government, among other steps.

“Defense counsel represents that failure to grant the continuance would deny them reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence,” Lindsey’s attorneys said a motion seeking a delay.

“Mr. Lindsey believes that failure to grant the continuance will deny him continuity of counsel and adequate representation.”

U.S. attorneys opposed the continuance, noting that the victims’ family “has informed the government that it would like this case to be resolved as soon as possible and without any further delay.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julian Lucien Andre and Joanna M. Curtis are leading the prosecution team. 

The trial is expected to last three to four days, attorneys have estimated.

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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