Somehow, this one slipped past us.
Along with a number of other cyclists, I’ve been carefully following the case of Stephanie Segal, the driver accused of killing James Laing in a drunken Agoura Hills hit-and-run last October. And wondering why it was taking the DA so long to file charges in a case that seemed so open and shut.
Wonder no more.
The question isn’t when charges will be filed, but why no announcement was made.
After doing a little digging — okay, a lot of digging — cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels discovered that charges were filed on December 27, and Segal was formally arraigned last Thursday. She pleaded not guilty to one count of felony gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, PC 191.5(a); and one count of felony hit-and-run with injury, CVC 20001(a), and is scheduled to appear for a Preliminary Hearing Setting on March 3rd.
More interesting, perhaps, is that the case is being heard at the same Malibu Courthouse where Robert Sam Sanchez was convicted in the hit-and-run death of Rod Armas — and by the same judge that sentenced Sanchez to 4 years after he pleaded no contest to hit-and-run with injury and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Although I doubt there are very many people in cycling community who would be satisfied with four years in this case.
Wheels also notes that the judge has ordered Segal not to consume alcohol or controlled substances without a valid prescription, and that she has entered a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, and was ordered not to leave without the permission of the court or program director.
In other words, she seems to be playing the same Get Out of Jail Free card favored by countless celebrities, entering rehab in hopes of leniency from the court.
The problem is, she may — or may not — sober up. But James Laing will still be dead simply because she chose to get drunk and get behind the wheel — then fled the scene, leaving a husband, son and brother to die in the street.
So let’s hope the judge is too smart to fall for that one.
But let’s make sure they know we’re watching, just in case.
In other news, the LA Bicycle Advisory Committee offers up a very full agenda for their meeting Tuesday night at the Community Room of the Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall, 6501 Fountain Avenue. The meeting is open to the public and cyclists are encouraged to attend.