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Lompoc Woman in Court to Face Murder, DUI Charges in Fatal Collision Near Casino

A judge on Wednesday ordered a Lompoc woman to answer to murder, DUI and other charges related to a multivehicle collision in December near the Chumash Casino Resort that fatally injured a 68-year-old Buellton resident and retired teacher.

Rebecca Sandoval, 37, appeared in Santa Maria Superior Court for a preliminary hearing, facing charges of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury and a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence on July 11, 2013, according to Supervising Deputy District Attorney Paul Greco, who is prosecuting the case.

“The intoxicating agent at issue in the case is nitrous oxide,” Greco told Noozhawk.

Sandoval, who remains in custody with bail set at $1 million, stands accused of causing the Dec. 19, 2013, three-vehicle collision that led to the death of Linda Wall, a well-known, longtime Spanish and French teacher at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

The wreck occurred about 2:10 p.m. near the intersection of Casino Drive and Highway 246 in the Santa Ynez Valley, according to authorities.

An eastbound Jeep Wrangler driven by Sandoval slammed into the rear of a Toyota Highlander — driven by Wall — that was slowing for a red light ahead, the California Highway Patrol said.

Sandoval was traveling at an unsafe speed, the CHP said, and the force of the impact drove the Highlander into the rear of an already stopped Chevy Equinox.

Wall suffered major injuries and required CPR. She was revived at the scene before being transported via a CalStar helicopter to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she later died.

Simona Mikusova, 28, was also injured during the incident, but Sandoval was uninjured.

Sandoval was charged with what’s known as a “Watson murder” charge, a term derived from a 1981 state Supreme Court case — People v. Watson — which established that, in some circumstances, a person who kills someone while driving under the influence can be charged with murder and/or manslaughter.

Sandoval is next scheduled to appear in court May 28, Greco said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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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