Evidence will prove that a Paso Robles man charged with vehicular manslaughter was not driving under the influence when his vehicle crashed into a car driven by a Los Osos teen, his defense attorney says.
In a news release, Darryl Genis complained that his client, Alexander Gonzales, 22, was charged with driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated before the results of blood tests on Gonzales have been released.
“It is both reckless and insensitive to the reputation and memory of both young men to make such a premature claim in the absence of any proof,” he wrote. “After speaking with my client’s family, I fully expect the toxicology of Alex’s blood to support the claim that he was not under the influence of any alcohol or drugs.”
According to the CHP, Gonzales was speeding north on South Bay Boulevard in Los Osos around 5:07 p.m. June 18, when his Dodge Charger veered into the southbound lane, where Jackson Garland was driving a Chevrolet Cavalier.
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After the resulting collision, Garland was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gonzales appeared in court Monday for his initial arraignment. Although he plans to plead not guilty, his plea was delayed.
Jennifer Goldman, another attorney representing the defendant, filed a motion to challenge the DUI charge. Gonzales’ attorneys will argue that motion — and request a lower bail — at a hearing set for July 7.
Goldman referred questions about the case to Genis, who was not in court and unavailable for comment Monday.
Garland, 18, a 2014 graduate of San Luis Obispo High School, had worked at Sabetta’s Pizza & Pasta in Morro Bay.
In his news release, Genis described Gonzales as a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record.
Gonzales had attended Paso Robles and Liberty high schools, Genis wrote, “where he was active in FFA, wrestling and welding.” Gonzales had been working at Cal Poly housing on the janitorial staff, Genis wrote, while attending Cuesta College. Gonzales is working toward a welding certificate.
Genis characterized the fatal crash as an accident.
“Sometimes tragedies like this one really are just accidents, not crimes,” he wrote.
Genis also said Gonzales cannot be charged with both DUI and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under state statute.
A spokesperson for the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached Monday.
Gonzales was being held Monday in County Jail in lieu of $130,000 bail.