By Özge Terzioğlu
FRESNO – When Fresno County Superior Court Judge William Terrance asked defendant Samantha Hill Wednesday if she was fully aware of the terms regarding her plea offer, she briskly responded that she was not.
The defendant explained that she spoke to her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Regina Chessari, over a lunch break for a few minutes, and they were supposed to continue talking after the lunch break, but they didn’t. Neither the defendant nor the public defender gave a reason as to why they didn’t finish talking.
Hill is charged with reckless driving.
Ms. Chessari requested that they enter a not guilty plea, and she also requested the officer’s body camera footage and the 911 call.
Chessari emphasized that she and her client wish to resolve her charges as quickly as possible because the defendant has a five-year-old child.
In response to the defense, Deputy District Attorney Brian Exline reiterated that the defendant was allegedly found under the influence while doing donuts in her car. Her five-year-old child was in the front seat during the incident, and not wearing a seat belt or in a car seat. The defendant also allegedly struck a curb in the midst of doing donuts.
When Judge Terrance asked if the defendant was aware of her plea offer, she claimed she did not know the terms of her deal. She showed disappointment when she explained that she was given very little time to speak to her attorney.
Ms. Chessari expressed a look of shock when the defendant explained why she didn’t know the terms of her plea offer.
The judge granted the defendant and the public defender time to speak in a breakout room.
When they returned, the public defender reiterated that they wish to enter a not guilty plea and set the date for the pre-trial. PD Chessari emphasized that her client is remorseful for her actions, is taking the matter seriously, and is still caring for her five-year-old child.
DDA Exline responded by re-emphasizing that Defendant Hill’s five-year-old child was unrestrained and in the front seat at the time of the incident.
Judge Terrance ordered defendant Hill to enter the SCRAM program, where she must wear a bracelet that detects the level of alcohol in her body, for the safety of the community and her child.
The pre-trial is set for Sept. 25 at 8:30 in the morning.
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