A woman who drove the wrong way down a 4S Ranch road, triggering a head-on crash that killed the other driver, had more than four times the legal limit of alcohol in her system at the time, a prosecutor said Tuesday, but a defense attorney told jurors her client was nowhere near as intoxicated as alleged and went the wrong way because she was distracted, not drunk.
Alexandria Bayne, 37, is being retried on a murder charge stemming from the Dec. 17, 2016, crash that killed Sarita Shakya, a 38-year-old Scripps Mercy Hospital nurse. Shakya had just gotten off work and was headed home when the crash occurred shortly before midnight.
Bayne was previously convicted last year of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury, but the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt on the murder count.
The defendant is charged with murder due to two previous DUI convictions from 2005 and 2008.
Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright told jurors in her opening statement that Bayne had been drinking alcoholic beverages throughout the day, starting that morning.
She left a friend’s house around 11:30 p.m., then drove into opposing traffic lanes on Camino Del Norte at more than 60 miles per hour, with no indications of braking, according to Bright.
A hospital blood draw taken after the crash measured her blood-alcohol content at .33 percent, though Bright alleged her BAC could have been as high as 0.40 at the time of the crash. The legal limit is .08.
“She chose to drink. She chose to drive. She chose to put the life of other motorists in danger on December 17th, 2016, and because of that, Sarita Shakya was killed,” Bright said.
Bayne’s attorney, Michelle Hunsaker, contended that Bayne was distracted by family issues, as well as her cell phone. The attorney said the intersection was also poorly marked, adding to her client’s confusion.
“It was tears, poor signage and fatigue that destroyed those two families,” Hunsaker said. “We are not discounting the magnitude of the loss of Ms. Shakya and we take full responsibility for that collision. But distraction does not equal murder.”
Hunsaker also disputed the prosecution’s allegations regarding Bayne’s blood-alcohol level. Though the defense attorney conceded Bayne drank on Dec. 17, Hunsaker said Bayne had encountered several people throughout the day and did not appear noticeably intoxicated.
In her opening statement, Bright alleged that Bayne’s boyfriend had spoken to her over the phone just prior to the crash and recognized by the sound of her voice that she was drunk. Bright said the boyfriend offered to give Bayne a ride, but she refused.
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