Tag Archive for driving under the influence

Former OC lawyer gets max sentence in drug-fueled death of bike rider

Four years.

That was the sentence a judge finally issued Friday, after repeated delays, for the death of bike rider Eric Billings in Mission Viejo 27 months earlier.

Former immigration attorney Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti, who goes by the name of Hayley, had unexpectedly pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in March of this year.

According to the OC DA’s office, she had a near-lethal dose of Xanax and Suboxone in her system when she ran down Billings’ bike from behind on March 15, 2013, as he rode in a marked bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway.

My News LA reports that investigators found a bottle of Xanax in her car following the collision; despite being filled just two days earlier, there were already 75 pills missing.

She reportedly ignored several text messages prior to the wreck from friends who begged her to stop driving and sober up. Yet despite claims that she was screaming and “pulling her hair out” following the crash, her first call was to her pharmacist, not 911.

She had faced a possible sentence of 16 months to four years for the conviction. She was also sentenced to an additional three years, to be served concurrently, after being caught with Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, while she was behind bars.

In addition, Fahkrai-Bayrooti’s license to practice law has been suspended by the California Bar, and stands to be permanently revoked after her sentencing.

My News LA reports that her defense attorney — at least the third one she has had in this case — claimed she had been dependent on prescription drugs since an “early, early age,” and may have early onset dementia as a result.

She expressed remorse at the hearing while pleading for mercy, saying she is no longer in denial about the damage she has caused. Although that denial appeared to be in full force in comments she left on this site just one day after pleading guilty.

A press release from the DA’s office quotes Billing’s wife from the victim’s statements given at an earlier hearing, offering just a hint of the loss her family has suffered.

The victim’s wife said in part, “The void that is left by this tragic and senseless accident is overwhelming. The fact that it isn’t just an accident, but rather an accident committed by one under the influence, is ironic in that Eric never had a drink in his life, would not even take a Tylenol, and would barely take a pain killer after surgery.” She went on to say, “Although I have chosen not to be bitter and have forgiven this woman, I would like her to have consequences for her actions.”

Fahkrai-Bayrooti now faces a long stay in state prison because she didn’t get the help she so clearly needed before she took an innocent man’s life.

Let’s hope she finally gets it while she’s behind bars.

And is never, ever allowed to drive again.

 

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.

 

More details on Sunday’s DUI bike collision in Torrance; driver had numerous moving violations

More details are trickling in on Sunday’s early morning DUI collision that left cyclist Adam Rybicki in critical condition.

According to the Daily Breeze, a car driven by 19-year old Jaclyn Andrea Garcia veered towards the group of cyclists, who were riding two-abreast on the right hand side of the street, as the car approached from about 75 yards away.

The members of the Doctor’s Ride — so called because of the number of physicians, lawyers and other professionals who regularly take part — swerved to get out of the way and braced for impact.

An email that was been forwarded to me, written by one of the participants on the ride, describes the car, a Kia mini SUV, swerving back to the right at the at the last second. The writer reports locking up his back wheel, screaming and somehow getting by, while the rider to his left, identified only as John, clipped the driver’s fender and fell into the street.

The rider to John’s left, identified as 49-year old Adam Rybicki of Rancho Palos Verdes, was hit head-on after he had swerved in a failed attempt to avoid the car; by swerving to the left, he had inadvertently put himself directly into the path of the Kia when it veered back to the right.

The writer reports that the car stopped, but the engine was still running, so he walked around to the driver’s side and screamed at her to turn off the engine. He reports that a man named Dick, identified in the Daily Breeze as a surgeon participating on the ride, tended to Rybicki until the paramedics arrived; his actions may have saved Rybicki’s life until he could be rushed to Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

He also notes the driver was breathalyzed and arrested, and everyone on the ride was interviewed. And that the police are doing a thorough investigation — despite the impression left by the comments made by a police spokesperson in the initial Daily Breeze report.

The Daily Breeze reports that Garcia has had multiple moving violations in just the last two years — yet was still allowed to keep her license.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, 19, has a valid driver’s license, but has had four convictions for driving offenses since 2009, including three for speeding, state Department of Motor Vehicles records show.

The records showed Garcia was convicted Jan. 14, 2009, of driving at a speed unsafe for the prevailing conditions.

On May 13, 2009, she was convicted of failing to obey signs. On Dec. 4, 2009, she received a ticket for speeding at more than 70 mph, then received another ticket for driving at a speed unsafe for the conditions on Jan. 25, 2011.

Despite that, she was allowed to keep driving, and nearly took the life of another person on Sunday.

One of the commenters on today’s post questioned why the passengers in her car weren’t subjected to a blood alcohol test, since they were also reputed to be drunk and underage — and he describes them, not unfairly, as accomplices rather than mere passengers.

Several reports have described the driver as emotionless, and told of one passenger who, rather than show any concern or compassion for the victim, attempted to walk away, saying she had to get to work and didn’t have time “for this shit.”

As I understand it, it is also an established legal principal that whoever supplied them with the alcohol — whether a business or individual — can be held accountable for the actions that resulted. We can only hope that the police follow the investigation as far as it goes, and the DA pursues all the charges that are warranted, whether against Garcia or anyone else who may have contributed to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Garcia has been released on $100,000 bail, while Rybicki, who has a wife and son, remains in a coma with a broken leg and ankle, several broken ribs, a broken shoulder, cracked vertebrae, multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

Maybe you can tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

My prayers go out to Adam, his family and loved ones, with my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

.………

Another comment received Monday evening from a couple who describe themselves as regular participant in the same ride confirms many of the details from other sources.

More details on Sunday’s DUI bike collision in Torrance; driver had numerous moving violations

More details are trickling in on Sunday’s early morning DUI collision that left cyclist Adam Rybicki in critical condition.

According to the Daily Breeze, a car driven by 19-year old Jaclyn Andrea Garcia veered towards the group of cyclists, who were riding two-abreast on the right hand side of the street, as the car approached from about 75 yards away.

The members of the Doctor’s Ride — so called because of the number of physicians, lawyers and other professionals who regularly take part — swerved to get out of the way and braced for impact.

An email that was been forwarded to me, written by one of the participants on the ride, describes the car, a Kia mini SUV, swerving back to the right at the at the last second. The writer reports locking up his back wheel, screaming and somehow getting by, while the rider to his left, identified only as John, clipped the driver’s fender and fell into the street.

The rider to John’s left, identified as 49-year old Adam Rybicki of Rancho Palos Verdes, was hit head-on after he had swerved in a failed attempt to avoid the car; by swerving to the left, he had inadvertently put himself directly into the path of the Kia when it veered back to the right.

The writer reports that the car stopped, but the engine was still running, so he walked around to the driver’s side and screamed at her to turn off the engine. He reports that a man named Dick, identified in the Daily Breeze as a surgeon participating on the ride, tended to Rybicki until the paramedics arrived; his actions may have saved Rybicki’s life until he could be rushed to Harbor UCLA Medical Center.

He also notes the driver was breathalyzed and arrested, and everyone on the ride was interviewed. And that the police are doing a thorough investigation — despite the impression left by the comments made by a police spokesperson in the initial Daily Breeze report.

The Daily Breeze reports that Garcia has had multiple moving violations in just the last two years — yet was still allowed to keep her license.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia, 19, has a valid driver’s license, but has had four convictions for driving offenses since 2009, including three for speeding, state Department of Motor Vehicles records show.

The records showed Garcia was convicted Jan. 14, 2009, of driving at a speed unsafe for the prevailing conditions.

On May 13, 2009, she was convicted of failing to obey signs. On Dec. 4, 2009, she received a ticket for speeding at more than 70 mph, then received another ticket for driving at a speed unsafe for the conditions on Jan. 25, 2011.

Despite that, she was allowed to keep driving, and nearly took the life of another person on Sunday.

One of the commenters on today’s post questioned why the passengers in her car weren’t subjected to a blood alcohol test, since they were also reputed to be drunk and underage — and he describes them, not unfairly, as accomplices rather than mere passengers.

Several reports have described the driver as emotionless, and told of one passenger who, rather than show any concern or compassion for the victim, attempted to walk away, saying she had to get to work and didn’t have time “for this shit.”

As I understand it, it is also an established legal principal that whoever supplied them with the alcohol — whether a business or individual — can be held accountable for the actions that resulted. We can only hope that the police follow the investigation as far as it goes, and the DA pursues all the charges that are warranted, whether against Garcia or anyone else who may have contributed to the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Garcia has been released on $100,000 bail, while Rybicki, who has a wife and son, remains in a coma with a broken leg and ankle, several broken ribs, a broken shoulder, cracked vertebrae, multiple skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.

Maybe you can tell me what’s wrong with this picture.

My prayers go out to Adam, his family and loved ones, with my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

.………

Another comment received Monday evening from a couple who describe themselves as regular participant in the same ride confirms many of the details from other sources.

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