By Nico Ludwig-Stock and Estrella Torres
LOS ANGELES, CA – In a driving under the influence (DUI) preliminary hearing last Thursday, the accused was not offered any mental health resources to address his use of alcohol and, instead, the Los Angeles County Superior Court judge determined the accused would face a criminal trial for his misuse of alcohol.
According to court records, on March 15, at 7:30 p.m. there was a car accident altercation between the accused and the alleged victim on Santa Monica Blvd. The accused was charged with driving under the influence.
The first witness called was the alleged victim in the incident, who explained she had been driving her truck down Santa Monica Blvd. She was stopped at a red light when all of a sudden she was “hit severely from behind.” Immediately after the impact, she felt “stabbing pain down my neck, back and legs.”
The prosecutor continued, asking the witness if she had any injuries, to which she affirmed the positive. The witness also denied she had any injuries before the accident.
The public defender objected, stating there were “no expert opinions,” and was overruled by Judge Mark Zuckman. The witness explained she felt injuries “seconds after the impact,” with limited neck mobility and sharp pain.
The alleged victim made contact with the accused during the incident asking if he was “all right” and for his license and insurance. The accused allegedly responded to her saying “I was on my way to a party.”
The defense began cross-examination of the alleged victim, asking if there were any “preexisting injuries that were exacerbated.” The witness positively affirmed, saying she had “misunderstood the initial question” when the prosecutor asked if there were prior injuries.
Her preexisting scoliosis had been exacerbated and was no longer “manageable,” the alleged victim said, adding the scoliosis was now “chronic.”
The witness stated, “I cry myself to sleep” and was seeing a “spine doctor,” who gave her injections and a neck traction device for daily use. A chiropractor utilized whole-body traction on her as well.
Reports from police officers at the scene said the witness’s truck had suffered “moderate damage,” but when the witness/alleged victim was asked to verify this, she responded, “He totaled my truck.” It was later revealed that she was able to drive the truck three miles back home.
The prosecutor asked another witness, an officer, when he arrived at the scene on “March 15, 2023.” This immediately elicited a concerned response from the public defender, who argued, “The complaint has been March 16. The DA apologized, stating the alleged victim had said it was the 15th.
After several minutes of confusion, the attorneys agreed they would need to clarify this soon. But in the meantime, Judge Zuckman reminded the attorneys the phrasing “on or about March 15” would be sufficient for questioning the witness.
The prosecutor continued direct examination of the witness officer, who stated he arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the incident and observed “a black sedan with heavy damage to the front and a white truck with damage.” He said he noticed several people “standing around,” and he saw the accused standing on the curb.
The officer described noticing the telltale signs of intoxication in the accused, including “red watery eyes, slurred speech” and a flushed face. He noted the accused was slow to comprehend what was being told to him.