By Lauren Smith
WOODLAND – A judge here in Yolo County Superior Court Tuesday ruled that a defendant should stand trial for two felony counts related to driving under the influence—after hearing a tale of a wild car ride, sometimes at speeds of up to 100mph while the defendant was in a physical fight with a passenger.
It is alleged that on June 2, Lisette Kidson, charged with two felony counts of DUI and DUI with injury, was driving under the influence when she got into a heated argument and a physical fight with her passenger, resulting in a car accident.
Photographs at the preliminary hearing depict the left side of the defendant’s car, right before the driver’s door, smashed in with the airbags deployed on both the driver and passenger side of the vehicle.
CHP Officer Simpson testified that when he arrived on the scene of the accident, it appeared obvious that the driver, the defendant, was under the influence of alcohol because “the alcohol was something that I was very strong smelling, and through her mannerisms, her speech, her body movements, everything about the contact it was wow…I definitely had to do the DUI investigation.”
Officer Simpson said “She was all over the place,” and he administered a breathalyzer test and only one sobriety test, stating that the defendant “didn’t want to do” more tests.
Officer Simpson’s partner, CHP Officer Hernandez, testified that when he arrived on the scene, he was tasked with finding the passenger who had run from the scene. When the passenger was found, Officer Hernandez testified that “he had red marks on his face and his neck, he had blood all over him” and was “in visible pain.” Officer Hernandez called an ambulance to take the passenger to the hospital to be treated for his injuries.
However, when pictures of the passenger’s injuries were shown to the court and admitted into evidence, Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt argued that they merely required a band-aid and that “Officer Hernandez’s first description that [the passenger] had blood all over him was a little dramatic and wasn’t really reflective of the photographs and medical records” from the hospital of the passenger’s injuries.
According to the statement Hernandez took from the passenger, there was an altercation between the driver and the passenger while they were driving, so the passenger fled the scene because he wanted to get away from the driver.
The passenger told Hernandez that, prior to the collision, he and the defendant were drinking and got into a “physical fight” in which the defendant “wrapped the seat belt around his neck and was choking him with it.”
After the fight, the defendant and passenger got in her car heading toward Dixon/Woodland, said the passenger, adding that they were still arguing in the car while the defendant was driving “100 miles an hour,” forcing him to “grab the steering wheel a couple of times to keep the car on the roadway,” ultimately ending up driving off of the roadway.
Van Zandt argued that there was not enough evidence to support that the defendant was the driver of the vehicle; in fact, he claimed that because the passenger fled from the scene, it was “suspicious” and worthy of further investigation.
The defense attorney suggested that because of the passenger’s prior convictions, including selling controlled substances and domestic violence as well as multiple felony convictions, his statements to officers are not to be trusted.
In the very least, said Van Zandt, the felony case should be dropped to a misdemeanor.
However, Judge David Reed disagreed, stating “the court does not find that the evidence is overwhelming to justify granting” the motion to reduce the charges, and the case is set for trial.
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