In a Jan. 14 hearing, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Alfonso Fernandez denied the motion to dismiss two counts in the criminal case against Pam Allen.
In April 2017, Allen, 66, of Pine Cove, was charged with three felonies for the March 31 traffic collision with Julia Romero, 18, of Idyllwild, on Highway 243. Two of the charges were for driving under the influence and causing great bodily injury. The third charge was hit and run.
In Oct. 20, Defense Attorney Donald Bartell filed a motion to remove the first two felony charges relating to driving under the influence and causing great bodily injury.
Bartell questioned the experience and, therefore, the capability of California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bell, who covered the crash scene, to assess the evidence and draw an expert conclusion.
Bartell supported this argument with his expert witness Herbert Summers, Ph.D., a forensic engineer, who testified that Bell’s assessment of the location of the initial collision was wrong.
The county’s Deputy District Attorney Allison Pace made several points in response. First was that California legal procedures require setting aside charges when there is no rational basis for the alleged charge.
The CHP officer has investigated many crash scenes and taken training collecting evidence. Therefore, his conclusions were based on objective data and rational.
Secondly, Allen did show signs of intoxication and her “breath tested with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 and 0.14, approximately two hours after the collision.”
In opposing the DA’s response, Bartell continued to argue that there were no witnesses to the case, Bell’s description of the crash is inconsistent with Summers’ data and the alcohol tests were not appropriately given.
After hearing oral arguments during the hearing, Fernandez ruled, “Officer Bell does have experience and can be an expert witness.”
Another hearing has been set for March 8.