Owens found competent for trial in Fiesta Island mishap
Published - 04/27/15 - 07:27 AM | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A jury took only 40 minutes to decide April 24 that a San Diego woman is mentally competent to face charges of hitting six bicyclists on Fiesta Island when she was driving the wrong way.

The task for the eight-woman, four-man jury in the two-day trial focused only on whether Theresa Lynn Owens was mentally fit and understood court proceedings and not on the merits of the criminal case against her.

Criminal proceedings now resume against Owens, 49, and San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino set a May 21 preliminary hearing.

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto urged jurors to find her mentally competent, while defense attorney Brian Schmidt said Owens was mentally incompetent and could not assist in her own defense.

One doctor presented by the defense testified Owens has bipolar disorder and that she was incompetent. A prosecution doctor testified she had some sort of disorder that was affected by drugs she had taken.

Owens is accused of driving the wrong way on Fiesta Island on Aug. 12, 2014 while under the influence of drugs and of possession of methamphetamine. She’s also charged with driving under the influence of drugs on July 20.

She is accused of causing great bodily injury to Juan Carlos Vinolo, 43, who is paralyzed from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury. Vinolo also suffered some rib fractures and lost a kidney in the accident.

Other bicyclists injured were Logan Bass, of Pacific Beach, who was hospitalized two days after a car mirror was pushed into his side. Other victims include Robert Bernhard, Kenneth Leipper, Beatric Dormoy and Steven Hale.

Witnesses said Owens appeared dazed or confused at the scene. Police found methamphetamine on her body.

Schmidt told jurors that Owens has a delusion that her boyfriend set the accident up. He said she was diagnosed with bipolar illness in 2007 and could not assist him in her defense.

She remains in the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility on $100,000 bail.

-- Neal Putnam

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