A possible plea deal in Santa Maria Superior Court has been withdrawn for a Lompoc woman accused of leading law enforcement officers on a pursuit and causing a crash that killed a man and injured another.

Dinara Arevalo

Dinara Arevalo

Dinara Arevalo faces two felony criminal charges related to the incident that began in Lompoc and ended on the Gaviota Coast on Oct. 1, 2018.

The charges — vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and felony evading an officer — stem from a high-speed pursuit that ended in a crash and caused the death of Michael D. Garcia, 58, of Santa Barbara.

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

In addition, Arevalo faces allegations for inflicting great bodily injury on Brett J. Bronstad, 60, also of Santa Barbara.

Arevalo led law enforcement officers on a pursuit from the city to Highway 1, where speeds reached 100 mph before entering Highway 101 and traveling south until the crash at Gaviota.

Her defense attorney claimed in prior hearings that the woman was in the middle of a mental health crisis and believed a police officer was the devil, according to one expert’s testimony in a prior hearing. 

However, the prosecution’s expert claimed that the defendant spoke with a police officer, an act contrary to someone in fear. 

The prosecution also noted the Arevalo stated after the crash that she feared being late and getting dropped from her UCSB class.

She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges.

During a Friday hearing before Judge James Herman, defense attorney Catherine Swysen said her client had been poised to accept the offer, only to learn it had been withdrawn. 

“It came as a surprise to me,” Swysen said.. 

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagner explained that the proposed two-year sentence was “definitely not well received by the family.”

The prosecuting attorney said Garcia’s family objected to the low amount of custody time since Arevalo would receive credit for days she previously served in jail.

Wagner said he made the offer after the case moved slowly through the process, which included the defense asking judges to refer the case to a mental health diversion court. 

“The family had gone through torment waiting for closure,” Wagner said, adding that there were concerns the proposed punishment didn’t fit the crime. 

He noted the exposure, if Arevalo was found guilty after a trial, is rather significant, adding the woman’s sentence could be in the low teens.

Wagner also said he expected to make a new offer to the defense.

The attorneys and judge also discussed the trial, estimated to last six weeks and start early next year, before agreeing to return Jan. 10.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.