Los Osos woman pleads not guilty to manslaughter over death of pastor

Emily Bales

A 24-year-old Los Osos woman pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges that could land her up to nine years in state prison over the death of a local pastor. [KSBY]

On Nov. 18, Pastor Dale Paulsen of the Morro Bay Presbyterian Church was walking in the 500 block of Ramona Avenue in Los Osos at about 5:30 p.m. when he was struck and killed by a pickup truck. Hours before his death, Paulsen announced to his congregation that he planned on retiring.

The driver of the pickup, 24-year-old Emily Bales, fled the scene, according to the CHP. At 6:20 p.m., an officer located Bales inside the pickup and arrested her.

Prosecutors charged Bales with manslaughter with an enhancement for fleeing the scene of the crash and DUI causing injury with an enhancement for inflicting great bodily harm.

On Wednesday, Bales appeared in San Luis Obispo Superior Court for the first time in the case and entered a plea of not guilty. During the hearing, it was revealed that Bales had a BAC of .13 at the time of the fatal crash. 

Bales was allegedly reportedly drinking at a bar with friends prior to getting behind the wheel and driving home on the day of the collision. 

Defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, who is representing Bales, said his client recognized her errors almost immediately after she got home. Funke-Bilu said Bales is not a wealthy woman, and she is not currently driving but is going to counseling.

A judge rejected a request by prosecutors to increase Bales’ bail. She remains out of custody, having already posted bail.

Bales is due back in court on Jan. 28.

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