Tag Archive for Stephanie Drew Segal

Stephanie Segal pleads No Contest in last year’s Agoura Hills death of cyclist James Laing

Jim Laing, photo courtesy of his sister Peggy Laing-Krause

It looks like the Laing family may get closure for Christmas.

I heard from a reliable source Wednesday afternoon that Stephanie Segal has entered a plea of No Contest to both counts in the drunken hit-and-run death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura Hills last year.

That means she is not admitting guilt in the case, but won’t fight the charges, and will accept the court’s judgment in the case.

The judge has already indicated that he intends to impose a sentence of at least nine years in state prison, with formal sentencing to take place in late January of next year.

Laing was riding on in the bike lane on Agoura Hills Road on the afternoon of Saturday, October 23rd of last year, when he was run down from behind by Segal’s car and died at the scene. She fled the scene, and was followed by witnesses to a nearby parking lot, where she was arrested with a blood alcohol content of .26 — over three times the legal limit.

She almost immediately entered a rehab facility, where she spent much of the past year, whether in a genuine attempt to get help, or a callous — and failed — attempt to get leniency from the court.

By all accounts, Segal has refused to take any responsibility for getting drunk and climbing behind the wheel, let alone needlessly taking the life of an innocent human being.

I’m told that her testimony — against the advice of both the court and her own attorney — in the preliminary hearing was contradictory and confusing, backpedalling repeatedly as she attempted to shift the blame and explain away her actions.

Her attorney seemed to be making the case that she hadn’t attempted to flee, but merely continued driving until reaching a safe place to stop.


Laing’s sister Carolyn also reports that she tried to blame Laing for kicking her Mercedes Benz, which appears to have been a last-ditch effort to push away from her car in a failed attempt to save his own life.

In other words, he saw it coming. And there was nothing he could do.

Somehow, kicking a car in self defense seems to pale when compared to the drunken murder of another person. But Segal still doesn’t seem to get that.

By all accounts, she came off as arrogant and argumentative during her ill-advised testimony; I suspect her attorney strongly advised her to plead guilty to the charges to avoid digging herself in any deeper.

As one person put it to me, failure to do so after her dramatic failure on the stand probably would have been legal malpractice.

Of course, she’s not likely to spend the full term behind bars. The current prison overcrowding problems mean she’s likely to be released long before the nine years are up. And as a non-violent offender, she may even do her time in county jail.

But I wouldn’t count on getting time off for good behavior, either.

We can only hope that she’ll finally grasp the consequences of her actions as she sits in her cell, for however long that may end up being.

But at least the loved ones Jim Laing left behind can finally end this year with the light of a very long and tragic tunnel firmly in sight.

Update: An anonymous comment below indicates that Segal will be required to spend at least 85% of her sentence behind bars due to the nature and severity of her crime, and that the sentencing will take place on January 26th in the Malibu courthouse.

Legal update: DUI driver arraigned for injuring Adam Rybicki, Valencia sentencing today

These days, it seems like there are as many court cases involving cyclists than there are riders on the streets.

Fortunately, cyclist/attorney Dj Wheels has done his usual great job of keeping us up to date with the latest legal proceedings — including charges against the under-aged, allegedly intoxicated driver who ran down who hit Adam Rybicki head on, and Thursday’s sentencing for Marco Antonio Valencia, convicted in the hit-and-run DUI death of Joseph Novotny.

Editor’s Note: While Dj Wheels provided updates on these cases, any commentary or information beyond the actual status of the cases are mine. So blame me, not him.

Jaclyn Andrea Garcia:  Charges were filed May 19th at the Torrance Courthouse for the DUI collision that critically injured cyclist Adam Rybicki this past April. The Supervising Judge recused all the judges there from hearing the case, with no public explanation for his actions; however, rumor has it that Garcia’s mother is a court reporter in Torrance, which would explain the recusal.

As a result, arraignment was held Tuesday in Department 5 of the Inglewood Courthouse, Case #YA081126. Garcia’s attorney, George Bird, entered a plea of not guilty to all four counts:

1) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
2) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury
3) CVC 23153(a) – DUI w/ injury
4) CVC 23153(b) – DUI w/ BAC over .08 and injury

Bird also informed the court on the record that his client has voluntarily surrendered her driver’s license, entered into a three-month alcohol program, voluntarily attended 18 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and has begun electronic alcohol monitoring with the SCRAM device made famous by Hollywood’s favorite outlaw.

Too bad it’s just a little too late.

Had Garcia sobered up a few months earlier, Adam Rybicki might not be in a coma right now, the victim of a 20-year old woman still drunk and behind the wheel at 7:15 in the morning.

And you can bet that none of the actions Garcia took in surrendering her license or entering rehab were her idea; it was no doubt ordered by her attorney in an attempt to show remorse and get his client released with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

After all, it’s worked for any number of Hollywood celebrities, whose first stop after hitting the tabloids is usually a stint in luxury rehab.

And by all accounts, Garcia’s high-priced attorney knows what he’s doing. Maybe if Dr. Thompson’s attorney had ordered him straight into rehab, he might be a free man today.

Let’s hope that the court takes this case seriously, and doesn’t let yet another driver buy her way out of taking responsibility.

Speaking of the infamous Good Doctor:

Dr. Christopher Thompson:  The date for oral arguments has been continued upon the court’s own motion in the appeal of Dr. Thompson’s conviction for intentionally injuring two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon by slamming on his brakes in front of them.  The new date is now 6/29/11.

Marco Antonio ValenciaValenica was convicted last month in the hit-and run DUI death of cyclist Joseph Novotny. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for today (Thursday) at the San Fernando Court; he faces up to 24 year to life in prison.

Shawn Fields:  Fields is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of 17-year old cyclist Danny Marin in Pacoima last October. Fields reportedly told investigators that he thought he might have hit something, because he remembered seeing sparkly dust flying over him — from the windshield shattered by Marin’s body. Pretrial/Trial Setting Conference is scheduled for 6/22.

Patrick Roraff & Brett Morin:  Roraff and Morin are charged with causing the death of rising pro cyclist Jorge Alvarado in April of last year. The two were allegedly street racing when Roraff lost control and slammed into Alvarado, who was riding on the opposite shoulder. Pretrial conference is scheduled for 7/7.

Stephanie Drew Segal:  Segal is charged with the hit-and-run DUI death of cyclist James Laing in Agoura last year (notice a theme here?). She allegedly plowed into Laing after leaving a local wine tasting room, and entered into a rehab facility after her arrest. Preliminary setting is scheduled for 6/28; Wheels notes that the docket says the DA has been ordered to have victims present, which is unusual for this type of hearing.

Renato Demartino:  Demartino is charged with the hit-and-run death of 22-year old cyclist Marco Acuapan, who died in April, four months after he was allegedly hit by Demartino’s car while riding in a bike lane in Tustin. A pretrial conference scheduled for 6/1.

Danae Marie Miller:  Miller is charged with the death of world-class triathlete Amine Britel; she was allegedly drunk and texting when she rear-ended Britel, who was riding in a marked bike lane. Pretrial conference scheduled for 7/15.

Captain John David Hines:  Hines, a Long Beach Fire Captain, is accused of plowing into cyclist Jeffrey Gordon, then fleeing the scene, despite legal, and professional, obligations to stop and render aid. He had allegedly been drinking for hours in a local bar before getting behind the wheel, and had a BAC of .24 at the time of his arrest — three times the legal limit. And once again, he reportedly checked into rehab right after his arrest. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/17.

Satnam Singh:  Singh is charged with killing 20-year old college student Nick Haverland in yet another hit-and-run DUI — this time, in a hit-and-run rampage involving three separate collisions in a matter of minutes that left five people injured and Haverland dead. Pretrial conference scheduled for 6/14; Singh remains in custody with the Ventura County Sheriff.

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