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Federal Trial for Driver In Double-Fatal Crash Near Lompoc Postponed Until March

The federal trial for a Georgia man facing three criminal charges in connection with the death of a Lompoc couple in 2016 near the Lompoc prison complex won’t occur until March at the earliest.

Shaquille Lindsey of Covington, Georgia, faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the combined influence of both alcohol and marijuana, and while using his cellphone.

The third count alleges driving under the influence and causing bodily injury.

A federal grand jury indicted Lindsey last year, months after he allegedly drove a rented vehicle 15 mph over the speed limit into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with another vehicle near the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex.

The Aug. 28, 2016 crash on Santa Lucia Canyon Road killed Ruben Betancourt, 51, and Bertha Betancourt, 56. An adult son, Juan Betancourt, also was injured in the collision. 

The roadway, although popular as an alternative route for civilian drivers to reach the Lompoc Valley, actually falls under federal jurisdiction. 

Vandenberg representatives spearheaded the investigation into the crash, and the criminal case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

A federal judge agreed in December to scrap the planned January trial date and rescheduled the trial for March 27.

A hearing to assess the status of the case and consider motions is planned for March 12, federal Judge Christina Snyder also ruled.

An earlier trial date planned for September also was scrapped.

Trial dates are often delayed due to scheduling conflicts with attorneys' different cases or other factors. When seeking the initial delay, the defense team noted the discovery included 3,240 pages of reports, photographs, and other documents, plus expressed a need to conduct its own investigation.

Lindsey is a former airman who reportedly was visiting friends at Vandenberg Air Force Base when the crash occurred.

If convicted of the three charges, Lindsey would face a statutory maximum sentence of 18 years in federal prison. 

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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