Local News

Friday, Mar 14 2014 09:38 AM

Driver in double-fatal DUI crash pleads to misdemeanor; five felonies dismissed

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

A Bakersfield woman who was charged with six felonies in connection with driving under the influence in a crash that killed two people pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor Friday morning and was scheduled to be released later in the day.

Terri Lynn Papadakis, 49, pleaded no contest to DUI causing injury and five felony charges, including two counts of DUI manslaughter without gross negligence, were dismissed while another was reduced to the misdemeanor charge. Judge Michael G. Bush sentenced her to three years' probation.

Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael J. Yraceburn said the manslaughter charges were not provable. Crash analysis indicated Papadakis was driving correctly and not speeding when the April 20, 2012, collision that killed 19-year-old Aubrey La Jonte Crofton and 14-year-old Angelo Reyes occurred.

The only provable element was Papadakis' intoxication: Her blood alcohol content was .19 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.

"It's an absolute tragedy all around," Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman said after Friday's proceedings.

He said there are no winners in a case where two young people died. Papadakis is remorseful, Cadman said, but the accident was not her fault.

Police reports filed in the case say the primary cause of the 8:30 p.m. crash was an illegal U-turn Crofton made in the 5800 block of Fairfax Road in northeast Bakersfield. Crofton had been driving north but pulled over to the east curb, briefly stopped, and then drove west as he turned to enter the southbound lanes.

The Honda Accord he was driving was struck by Papadakis' SUV while making the turn. The car sustained major damage to the driver's side.

The posted speed limit on that section of Fairfax Road is 50 mph.

The police reports say Papadakis smelled of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests. Her blood was drawn at a local hospital about 90 minutes after the crash.

Both Crofton and Reyes tested positive for THC -- the psychoactive component in marijuana -- and negative for alcohol, according to the reports. A small plastic baggie containing 1.5 grams of marijuana and a partly empty glass bottle of gin were found in the Accord.

Two others in the car suffered serious injuries. Police said Papadakis suffered minor injuries.

Papadakis was arrested in early January of this year and held on $700,000 bail. Court records indicate she spent 69 days in jail.

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