Jury selection begins for trial of CHP captain accused of driving drunk

The trial of a California Highway Patrol captain accused of misdemeanor drunk driving began Wednesday with jury selection.

Martin Joel “Marty” Whited, 50, was charged in connection with a March 2009 incident in which two sheriff’s deputies allegedly discovered him intoxicated in a stopped car on the side of a North County road.

He has pleaded not guilty.

An incident report states that, while on patrol on March 12, 2009, deputies Matt Terrell and Mike Norris saw Whited’s state-issued black Ford Crown Victoria near El Pomar and Neal Springs roads in rural Templeton.

When the deputies asked about his condition, Whited reportedly replied, “I’m fine.”

But they reported that he was unsteady, had to lean on his car and smelled of alcohol.

CHP Capt. Jeff Sgobba, who is based in the agency’s Goleta office, wrote in his investigative report that, although no blood alcohol testing was done and nobody saw Whited driving, “It is my opinion there is sufficient evidence that Whited was driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.”

-- Nick Wilson