Owens guilty of DUI in Fiesta Island mishap
Published - 10/09/15 - 06:30 AM | 4131 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After only four hours of deliberations, a jury Oct. 8 convicted Theresa Lynn Owens of driving under the influence of methamphetamine when she crashed into 10 bicyclists on Fiesta Island in 2014.

The seven-man, five-woman jury also convicted Owens, 50, of causing great bodily injury to Juan Carlos Vinolo, 44, of La Jolla, who was paralyzed from the chest down after he was “embedded into the hood” of Owens’ car, in the words of Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto.

The jury also found Owens injured Logan Bass, 27, of Pacific Beach, who suffered injury to his ribs when Owens’ car mirror struck him, and Steven Hale, whose elbow was shattered.

The jury also found that Owens inflicted great bodily injury to Beatrice Dormoy, who was partially impaled on the windshield in the Aug. 12, 2014 incident at 1000 Fiesta Island Road. They also found that she injured Robert Bernhard and Kenneth Leipper.

The jury also convicted Owens of possession of methamphetamine, found in a baggie on her person at a hospital after she was restrained and sedated.

Sentencing was set for Nov. 19 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Eugenia Eyherabide.

Owens faces a maximum sentence of 18 years in state prison.

A separate charge of driving under the influence of a drug was not heard before the jury, and a hearing on that will take place Oct. 14. That incident took place in Clairemont.

Owens’ attorney, Brian Schmidt, conceded the meth possession charge, but he disputed she was under the influence of meth when she was driving. Schmidt said her meth level was 137 nanograms, which he added is a very low amount. He also said such a level was below a “therapeutic range” and “well below abuse levels.”

Coto responded to his argument by saying “no doctor is prescribing methamphetamine” and saying the level was below a “therapeutic range” was ridiculous. Coto told jurors to consider witnesses’ accounts of Owens’ behavior at the scene before the test was taken.

Witnesses said she was disheveled, ranting, and “uttering things I didn’t understand,” in the words of Michael Barrerao, the trial’s first witness.

The bicyclists were riding in a double column, and their estimated speed was 24 miles an hour. An expert estimated Owens’ speed at 31 miles an hour, which is over the speed limit of 25.

Schmidt said there were no speed limit signs or one-way signs on the road where the collision occurred. Owens did not know she was driving the wrong way, he said. He said Owens did dial 911 on her cell phone, and she put the brakes on seconds after seeing the cyclists.

An officer testified Owens admitted to “doing a small line of meth this morning because of my back pain.” Owens also said she saw her boyfriend on the other side of the island with another woman and was driving to meet him.

Jury selection in the trial began on Sept. 23, with testimony starting on Sept. 29.

Owens remains in the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility.

– Neal Putnam
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