Defendant takes the stand in fatal DUI crash case

Denise Fox

A 24-year-old woman accused of vehicular manslaughter in the 2016 death of a Santa Margarita woman following a concert at the Pozo Saloon took the stand in her trial and testified that, prior to the crash, she only drank three beers over a four-hour period. [Tribune]

On April 30, 2016, Jessica Lea Allred, 24, allegedly crossed a double yellow line while driving on Highway 58 east of Santa Margarita following the Pozo Stampede concert. Allred’s car crashed head-on into the vehicle of Denise Fox, 56, of Santa Margarita. Fox was pronounced dead at the scene.

Allred is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI. Both charges carry enhancements for causing death. If convicted of all counts and enhancements, Allred faces up to 10 years in prison.

Jury deliberations in the case began on Tuesday. Prior to closing arguments and the beginning of deliberations, Allred took the stand to testify in her defense.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Allred testified that she went to the concert with her boyfriend, who drove on the way to Pozo. Allred had never driven the road herself, she said.

Allred planned to drive back alone, as her boyfriend was going to be camping with friends. The defendant joined her boyfriend at the campground, where she played beer pong but did not drink alcohol as part of the game, she said.

Over the approximately four hours she was at the campground and concert, Allred drank three beers, as well as water, and ate some food, she testified. Allred said she finished her last beer at 4:45 p.m. and drove away from the event at about 6 p.m. She did not feel any effects from the alcohol, Allred testified.

At one point while driving west on Highway 58, she changed a song that was playing on her cellphone and briefly swerved onto the shoulder of the road, Allred said. The incident scared her and she put her phone away.

The next thing she remembers is waking up on her back on the pavement and being lifted onto a flat board by emergency personnel, Allred testified. She said she remembers screaming and being in extreme pain.

The prosecution argued Allred was weaving, listening to loud music and dancing in her car prior to the crash. The defense argued that the crash occurred at a very dangerous stretch of road that includes a blind turn.

Witnesses provided conflicting testimony as to whether or not Allred was swerving on the road prior to the crash.

While at the hospital after the crash, Allred was found to have a blood alcohol level of .17.

The prosecution called on a sheriff’s forensic lab specialist who testified that Allred would likely have had 4.5 to 6.1 drinks to reach that blood alcohol level.

However, Allred’s attorney Patrick Fisher disputed the blood alcohol level reading, arguing the blood sample was mishandled by a registered nurse at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

It was the first time that Shelly Burns had taken blood for a DUI case. The defense accuses Burns of swabbing Allred’s arm with an alcohol-based solvent before drawing the blood, an action that allegedly tainted the results.

On Tuesday, the jury entered into deliberations which  are expected to continue on Thursday. Jurors must find that Allred was driving with gross negligence in order to convicted her of the gross vehicular manslaughter charge. The jury could opt instead to convict Allred of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

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2 Comments about “Defendant takes the stand in fatal DUI crash case”

  1. Candice Settlage says:

    At least some justice was served as she was sent packing to State Prison for 4 years, some solace she is not out drinking and driving again. Having taken over 2 years was far too long, to wait for justice.

    I doubt she learned her lesson she has a history of drinking, all while awaiting for trial, now she has a few years to think about it. Guilty

    (1) 1 Total Votes – 1 up – 0 down
  2. Kim Miller says:

    Well now this two years + old case should have been tried long ago, first she did NOT drive up there with her boyfriend he and his buddies were already there. She has driven this road several times to Poso Stampede events.

    She had several drinks and not just Beer, she at the time was a Bar Tender at Creeky Tikki
    while she also worked at several other Bars, Frog & Peach, BlackSheep where she recently quit to move to LA to again work in a bar. She still drinks and according to her former roommate, who worked with her at a bar she was a user of cocaine and plenty of alcohol and weed.

    A grandmother died needless lee, according to the witnesses not ordered to testimony for some reason ? i can only assume to fool the jury but facts are she has a well documented history of driving and drinking, now is the time to take some responsibility and should have told the truth as well as her lawyer you guys are suppose to seek Justice not conceal or misled the facts before a Jury.

    The CHP nor the Hospital made any errors, as one ER nurse and ER MD, who were never interviewed confirmed to the CHP that the blood was iodine cleaned and not alcohol swabs were used , the facts and truth should be the only thing to be tried no more delays or lies. She was under the influence period…………………………………..

    (2) 4 Total Votes – 3 up – 1 down

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