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Judge Refuses to Reduce Bail, Allow Release of Driver Who Struck Motorcyclists

Martin Maguire of Montecito faces felony DUI charges after a crash that left a Canadian couple critically injured

A Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge on Tuesday refused to reduce the bail and allow the release of a driver allegedly driving drunk last week when he collided with a couple on their motorcycle, leaving them critically injured.

Martin Maguire, 51, of Montecito was arrested on felony DUI charges on May 29, after police reported that Maguire’s SUV slammed into James Atwood, 63, and his wife, Ellen, 59, who were riding their motorcycle and suffered major injuries in the collision.

Though the couple have been moved out of the ICU, both victims have had legs amputated, and Ellen Atwood may need her arm amputated as well because of the injuries, according to the judge.

Officers on the scene told Noozhawk that the collision occurred as the pair were following another couple on a motorcycle westbound on the 800 block of Old Coast Highway, near the Montecito Country Club.

When the Toyota 4Runner SUV crossed over the center line, the first motorcycle was able to swerve out of the way, but the second was struck head-on, according to Officer Jayce Hunter, who added that Maguire appeared to be under the influence of several substances.

On Tuesday, Maguire appeared in court in a blue jumpsuit as his attorney, Christine Voss, entered a not-guilty plea.

She also asked Judge Thomas Adams to release Maguire and reduce his bail so he could care for his elderly mother.

Maguire’s mother, who uses a wheelchair, sat through almost an entire day of court proceedings, as did Maguire’s sister and brother, before Adams could get to the case on a packed calendar.

“As you can see, Mr. Maguire has a very insignificant record,” Voss told Adams. “He is otherwise a lawful-abiding citizen.”

Letters had been submitted from various people “from all walks of life” supporting Maguire’s character, she said.

The vehicle Maguire was driving was so badly damaged in the accident, he’d be unable to drive even if he was released, she said.

But Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeff Gittler took a much different view.

Because of the severity of the couple’s injuries, “[Maguire] is very fortunate this is not a murder charge,” he told the court, and asked that Adams raise Maguire’s bail amount to $160,000.

Maguire faced a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving in 2009, “and I guess he didn’t learn. ... Many of these letters ask for a second chance for Mr. Maguire, but he’s had a second chance,” Gittler said.

After looking over the letters, Adams said he could not reduce the bail because of the seriousness of the collision.

If the allegations are true, Adams said, “this was a repeat situation, and the last matter was resolved in July 2009, which was recently.”

Maguire is scheduled to be back in court on June 13 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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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