By Leslie Acevedo and Talia Kruger
VENTURA, CA – A pregnant woman in Ventura County Superior Court Friday was released by a judge for probation pretrial risk assessment; the judge expressed a little sympathy and a little lecture for the accused.
Leah Grider was charged with the felony of unlawful driving or taking of a vehicle after she failed to return a rental vehicle on time. Because of her prior record of drug use-related misdemeanors, Grider received a more stringent charge.
The bench warrant hold hearing began with Deputy Public Defender Ashley Correa stating the accused had prior medical history associated with failing to show up to court.
PD Correa read a letter from the accused’s doctor noting the accused’s pregnancy is expected to last until Nov. 19 when her Cesarean section procedure is scheduled to take place.
The defense explained the issues the accused has had with attending court hearings: medical, not having a stable place to stay and not having the sufficient money to travel back and forth for medical and court appointments.
Correa provided proof of this housing through a letter from the father, as well as proof of residence, and his relation to Grider’s daughter.
The defense also explained how Grider had been sober and had been very diligent about attending medical appointments for the pregnancy.
For these reasons Correa explained that her client wished to have her probation terminated until the birth of her baby.
Following the defense’s remarks, the prosecution explained its opposition to the order for release for several reasons.
The deputy district attorney cited the accused’s refusal to appear in court and for probation, noting on one occasion she had missed a court date but told the court that she was hospitalized for a medical issue. However, the hospital had no record of her being there, charged the DDA..
Prosecutor Jillian Ewan also expressed concern for the expected baby, stating supervision would be the only way for the court to know the accused wasn’t still using drugs that may harm the baby.
Judge Patricia Murphy said the court has grown frustrated with the accused’s failure to show up to court and not having a permanent place to stay, arguing the accused’s behavior is “consistent with someone using or has been using drugs.”
Judge Murphy said that while she had sympathy for the accused’s situation, the accused “has not done anything the court has asked her to do,” including not residing at a sober living home (or) pregnant women’s center, which would show the accused’s unwillingness to comply with the court’s order.
Judge Murphy ruled she would be releasing Grider on the contingency that she report to probation for pretrial risk assessment.
“I make no promises,” said Judge Murphy, “While I am releasing you today, there is still a chance that you may go back into custody.”