Crime

Tanner Mengore to serve 3 months for role in fatal Cayucos crash

Tanner Mengore was sentenced to just under three months in county jail prison. Photo by Joe Johnston 06-29-17
Tanner Mengore was sentenced to just under three months in county jail prison. Photo by Joe Johnston 06-29-17 jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The Los Osos man convicted of misdemeanor manslaughter from a 2014 crash on Highway 1 near Cayucos that resulted in two deaths and seriously injured two others will serve just less than three months in San Luis Obispo County Jail.

The Tuesday sentencing of Tanner Mengore, 25, brings closure to a case that’s worked its way through the San Luis Obispo Superior Court system for nearly three years following the Oct. 25, 2014 rollover that claimed the lives of 22-month-old Mason Simmonds-Gibson and 17-year-old Simon Alberto Brito and seriously injured 21-year-old Wendi Brito Gallardo and 23-year-old Michael Brito.

Mengore was sentenced to 180 days, but will receive credit for half time and also for the two days he was incarcerated shortly after the crash.

Mengore was convicted on one count of misdemeanor manslaughter without gross negligence in March for the death of Simmonds-Gibson. The jury hung on a second identical charge for Brito.

a1 Britos
Simon Alberto Brito, left, and Mason Simmonds-Gibson were killed in a 2014 rollover crash in Cayucos after their driver, Tanner Noah Mengore, allegedly smoked synthetic marijuana, also referred to as “spice.” Courtesy photos SanLuisObispo

Mengore originally was charged with two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, one count of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm and felony DUI and faced up to 12 years in state prison if found guilty on all counts. However, the jury rejected the more serious charges in favor of the lesser included offenses.

At trial, Mengore admitted to smoking the drug “Spice” shortly before the crash; he had been the designated driver for a visit to a Cambria smoke shop. But Mengore’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, argued that there was very little THC — a key ingredient in Spice — in Mengore’s blood, according to a post-crash analysis.

Funke-Bilu also argued that toxicology tests for Spice are “not well established,” a sentiment echoed by Deputy District Attorney Lee Cunningham after the verdict was read.

“There are problems associated with proving under the influence when you're working with synthetic marijuana, or marijuana for that matter, that are going to plague prosecutors throughout the state until such time as we can get some registration guidance from the Legislature,” Cunningham said in a Tribune interview at the time.

Mengore is scheduled to begin serving his sentence Jan. 2, 2018.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler

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