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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 6:44 pm | Fair 57º


Judge Rules Lompoc Woman Mentally Competent for Criminal Case to Continue

A Lompoc woman has been declared mentally competent to stand trial for charges related to a pursuit ending with a crash that led to a Santa Barbara man’s death.

Lompoc Superior Court Judge Raimundo Montes De Oca ruled Tuesday that Dinara Arevalo, 25, was mentally competent for the criminal case to resume.

Arevalo was driving a white Toyota RAV4 on Oct. 1 when Lompoc police attempted to contact her, according to the California Highway Patrol.

She fled south on Highway 1, and was pursued by Lompoc officers and Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies, the CHP said.

The CHP took over the chase once it reached Highway 101.

Arevalo was driving reckelessly, including at high speeds and on the right-hand shoulder, the CHP said, and collided with a black Toyota Tacoma pickup truck north of Refugio State Beach.

The pickup overturned and crashed off the right side of the roadway, near the railroad tracks, while the RAV4 rolled and came to rest in the center median.

The two occupants of the pickup — Michael D. Garcia, 58, and Brett J. Bronstad, 60, both of Santa Barbara — were seriously injured, and were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, the CHP said.

Garcia, who had been in a coma and in critical condition following the collision, died 10 days later.

Arevalo faces charges of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, and felony evading an officer causing death. 

In addition, special allegations of infliction of great bodily injury are alleged, regarding Bronstad's injuries.

Nearly two months ago, criminal proceedings stalled amid doubts about Arevelo's mental competency and ability to help with her defense. At the time, the judge ordered Arevelo to undergo psychiatric examinations to assess her mental competency.

In addtion to finding her mentally competent, the judge ordered Arevalo to return Dec. 18 to court when he may set a date for the preliminary hearing.

Arevalo remains in custody of the Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $200,000.

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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