Charge reduced in fatal Nipomo texting-while-driving case

ppemberton@thetribunenews.comMarch 20, 2014 

One of the felony charges filed against a motorist who allegedly struck and killed a pedestrian while texting was reduced Thursday to a misdemeanor.

Marie Marguerite Coyner, 24, of Nipomo was expected to agree to a plea bargain Thursday. Instead, legal wrangling in the case continued, and the next court date was set for April 10. Meanwhile, a charge of felony involuntary manslaughter that had been filed against Coyner was changed to vehicular manslaughter, a misdemeanor. She has also been charged with hit-and-run causing death, a felony.

The change in charges will not affect the maximum sentence Coyner could receive.

The District Attorney’s Office has charged Coyner with the death of Christopher Tietjen, 24. On Nov. 12, 2012, Tietjen was walking on the right shoulder of Thompson Road in Nipomo around 9 p.m. when he was struck by a car and killed. According to a police report, Coyner hit Tietjen while texting. She allegedly drove off after the collision without reporting the incident.

Tietjen’s body was discovered at 11 a.m. the next morning, partially hidden in grass and brush.

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