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Vehicular-Manslaughter Trial Underway for 2015 Crash Near Tanglewood

A motorcyclist was killed on Black Road in June 2015 in a violent collision when a truck turned left into the Tanglewood subdivision, a California Highway Patrol officer testified this week.

After jury selection Monday and opening statements Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Superior Court jurors in the Michael Glenn Chambers trial began hearing testimony from several witnesses.

Chambers, a Santa Maria resident, is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

Authorities contend Chambers made an unsafe left turn into the path of motorcyclist Mauro Leon, 23, of Santa Maria, who was killed instantly in the June 20, 2015, crash.

“It was a violent collision,” CHP Officer Mark Naylor said. “It was strong enough to snap the front end of the motorcycle and the fatal resulted from it.”

The impact of the collision with the truck’s right front side sent the rider over the top of the Ford F-350 that was white with a large blue stripe.

Pictures of the mangled motorcycle, with a yellow tarp covering Leon’s body, were displayed in court for jurors.

Mauro Leon Click to view larger
Mauro Leon (Contributed photo)

Other pictures showed the Ford F-350 truck with a smashed windshield, where the helmet struck.

Naylor said glass from the windshield was embedded in the helmet, which also had white paint from the truck

“The vehicle — everything about it was legal as far as the lighting,” Naylor said about the black Kawasaki motorcycle. 

Chambers told CHP officers he had been at the Santa Maria Speedway and was returning home when the crash occurred. His wife, son and grandchildren also were in the truck.

In determining the cause of crash, Naylor testified that he considered vehicle damage, tire tread marks on the road, debris, damage to vehicles and statements from witnesses.

“The cause of the collision was failure to yield before making a left turn,” Naylor said in response to questions from Deputy District Attorney Cathy Pringle.

Tire tread marks appeared to show the truck cutting the corner while turning left onto Tanglewood Drive.

In questioning the officer, defense attorney Adrienne Harbottle focused on the rural road’s lighting, showing a photo taken at the crash scene.

“And it’s pretty dark, correct?” she asked.

“Well, it’s a photo from a not-so-good camera,” Naylor replied.

She also showed Leon’s helmet, especially the chin strap, which appeared unhooked.

“So you don’t know if the chin strap was connected when Mr. Leon was riding his motorcycle?” the defense attorney asked, as the officer replied negatively. 

Defense questioning also focused on whether drivers traveling behind the motorcycle saw its tail lights.

Naylor said Chambers indicated shortly after the crash he did not see the motorcycle when he began turning. 

Witnesses reportedly gave inconsistent statements about the crash, with one woman saying the truck’s driver appeared to make the left turn from the regular traffic lane, not the turn lane, a different story than she previously provided law enforcement officers.

Naylor said witnesses’ inconsistent statements did not change his finding regarding the crash’s cause.

The trial will continue Friday before Santa Maria Judge John McGregor. 

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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