Breaking news: no sentencing in Eric Billings case today; driver found with narcotic drug behind bars

So much for that.

Word broke yesterday that the driver convicted in the death of cyclist Eric Billings in Mission Viejo two years ago was found with a prescription narcotic in her jail cell.

According to the Orange County DA’s office, former OC lawyer Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti was found in possession of Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, on May 13th as she was being held awaiting sentencing.

Something that was supposed to happen today.

However, a source reports from the courtroom that her sentencing has been delayed yet again, much to the distress of the victim’s family.

Apparently, her extremely savvy criminal defense team doesn’t work weekends. Robert Weinberg told Judge Jones that Hasti’s psychiatric evaluation only reached his office last Friday afternoon, and he hasn’t had time to review it. SINCE FRIDAY. In his defense (cough), it’s an extremely lengthy report.

The judge is unwilling to allow for any technicality that would give Hasti any possibility of appeal whatsoever, so he granted the motion to allow the delay. The defense will naturally try to incorporate any pertinent information from the psych eval into his sentencing brief. (Note: The Deputy DA managed to create a very persuasive 25-page brief on the People’s behalf just fine, without any report from the probation department.)

One of Eric Billings’ daughters who’d been unable to speak at the first attempt at sentencing was allowed to speak this morning. She vented, and clearly the judge agrees that she is absolutely right that victims have a right to a fair and speedy trial.

In the hallway prior to the hearing, she was demanding to know who Hasti’s “pharmacist” is, because she wants him investigated, and his license revoked. (When the first witness to approach Hasti after the collision asked if there was anybody she could call, she mumbled something about her pharmacist, and tried to place a call on her cell. Also, her blood drawn more than four hours after the collision indicated Alprazolam [Ed. note: the generic form of Xanax] in an amount that is usually fatal.)

At one point, Hasti attempted, in her meek voice, to speak to the judge, but her lawyer instantly spun around in alarm and shushed her.

The next attempt at sentencing will be June 19th. The DA had a prelim set for that same morning, but rescheduled it because the Billings family has suffered enough during this delay.

Oh yeah, and naturally Hasti pleaded not guilty to the new charge. And she’s not retaining her extremely savvy criminal defense team this time; instead, she has a public defender.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti had entered an unexpected guilty plea last March to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for running Billings down from behind as he rode his beach cruiser in the bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway two years earlier. Billings, described by friends as a loving father and devout Mormon, died at the scene.

She faces up to four years in prison once she’s finally sentenced

In addition to all the other breaking news in this case, the California State Bar suspended the immigration attorney’s license to practice law earlier this week. Chances are that suspension will become permanent following her sentencing, especially in light of the additional drug charge.

Let’s hope the Billings family gets the justice they deserve. And that Fakhrai-Bayrooti gets the help she so desperately seems to need while she’s behind bars.

And that she’s never allowed behind the wheel again.

 

One comment

  1. How about a nice stay in a state mental institution with transfer to prison when she’s found competent enough to understand why she’s in prison.

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