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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 10:34 pm | Fair 50º


Judge Denies Jail Release, Bail Reduction For Driver in Fatal Crash Near Lompoc

Woman accused of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in fatal head-on collision remains in jail custody on $150,000 bail

A Lompoc judge denied jail release or lowering bail in the case of Spring Morrissey, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the case of a fatal head-on collision. Click to view larger
A Lompoc judge denied jail release or lowering bail in the case of Spring Morrissey, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the case of a fatal head-on collision.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A woman accused of driving while intoxicated and causing a fatal crash that killed another driver west of Lompoc lost her bid to be released from jail or have her bail reduced on Tuesday.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores, presiding over the case in a Lompoc courtroom, denied the request by defendant Spring Morrissey’s attorney.

Deputy Public Defender Sara Elturk asked the judge to release Morrissey from Santa Barbara County Jail, while requiring that the defendant wear an electronic alcohol monitoring device and live in a residential treatment program

However, Deputy Defense Attorney Stephanie Savrnoch opposed the request, saying the defendant first hit parked vehicles in Lompoc before untangling her vehicle from the wreckage to continue driving west on Ocean Avenue.

Morrissey, 32, was charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence in connection with the fatal head-on collision on West Ocean Avenue (Highway 246) near Douglass Avenue on Oct. 13. She allegedly was driving in the wrong lane on the two-lane road. 

Morrissey also faces a charge of driving under the influence causing injury with a special allegation of causing great bodily injury.

The driver of the other car in the collision, Victoria Levinson, 62, of Santa Maria, died hours later at a local hospital.

“She would have had to have known that she was driving on metal rims,” Savrnoch said of Morrissey. “The noise and the vibration from that would have been extremely obvious.”

Savrnoch added that Morrissey had several opportunities to stop driving while intoxicated that night but didn’t, costing Levinson her life.

“The victim didn’t stand a chance,” Savrnoch said in court.

Flores said he considered the pre-trial services report and a letter from a Recovery Way Home/Turning Point, but denied the request to release Morrissey from jail on her own recognizance or reduction of her $150,000 bail.

“We will continue revisiting these matters should the need arise,” Flores said.

Morrissey did not enter a plea Tuesday and the judge set a further arraignment hearing for 1:30 p.m. Nov. 22.

The defendant and her mother-in-law, Jari Blake, are suing the city of Lompoc and its Police Department in an unrelated case, alleging an illegal search  and invasion of privacy in violation of their Constitutional rights more than two years ago.

Originally filed in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, the case is now in federal court. Blake and Morrissey are representing themselves in the case.

On April 9, 2014, the women claim, police called to say the residence was being burglarized. Blake said she would be at the residence within minutes.

Officers entered and walked in on Morrissey who was “nearly naked from showering,” the complaint says.

In its response, the city's attorneys from El Segundo-based Aleshire and Wynder LLP law firm said the case stems from a follow-up to a check forgery report with Blake as the victim.

Officers went to Blake’s residence where they found the door wide open and no one responded after they announced themselves, prompting them to enter the residence. The city contends the incident occurred April 8, 2014.

Blake and Morrissey missed an Oct. 24 deadline for paperwork, prompting Judge Jacqueline Chooljian to order the plaintiffs to show cause in writing by Nov. 15 “as to why monetary sanctions or other disciplinary measures as deemed appropriate, including dismissal of the case for failure to comply with the Case Management Order and/or failure to prosecute should not be imposed for plaintiffs' failure to file a timely status report....”

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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