Just hours before the 1-year anniversary of the drunken-driving crash that killed two mothers and injured a man, Cameron Oliver changed his plea, saying “guilty” five times Monday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
The negotiated disposition means Oliver, 26, of Santa Maria will be sentenced to 24 years to life in state prison when he returns to court in two months.
“It’s a tragic loss all the way around,” Deputy District Attorney Lynmarc Jenkins said outside the courtroom.
Oliver previously pleaded not guilty to two murder charges and driving with a blood alcohol content exceeding .08 percent causing bodily injury to a third passenger.
The defendant was driving a vehicle at high speed on Feb. 6, 2017, with three passengers on Highway 135 north of Lakeview Road in Orcutt when it veered off the roadway, crashed through a fence, struck a concrete bench, and overturned onto Orcutt Road, the California Highway Patrol said.
Leann Stauffer and Tricia Jensen, both 37 and from Santa Maria, were fatally injured in the crash. While Stauffer was pronounced dead at the scene, Jensen died days later after being taken off life support.
Jensen, a Nipomo native and Arroyo Grande High School graduate, was described as a devoted, supportive mother of three young children and a small-business owner who loved to exercise.
“She literally was like the Energizer Bunny,” friend Thomas Binnebose, told The Tribune in February. “She was always active and always on the go.”
A third passenger was also injured in the crash that occurred hours after the 2017 Super Bowl.
According to the criminal complaint, Oliver allegedly had a blood-alcohol content that exceeded .19 percent, and was driving more than 125 mph at the time of the crash.
A prior DUI in San Diego County meant Oliver faced a pair of murder charges related to the deaths of Stauffer and Jensen.
Under the negotiated disposition, he pleaded guilty to five charges on an amended complaint including second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury.
“The amendments are to reach a negotiated term,” Jenkins said. “That term would be 24 years to life in state prison.”
The agreement also gives Oliver a strike under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law.
Oliver sat next to his attorney, S.E. Ballard from the Santa Barbara County Public Defender’s Office, as he answered multiple questions related to changing his plea during Monday’s hearing,
When Judge James Voysey asked if Oliver had any questions, the defendant said, “I do not, your honor.”
Oliver agreed to be sentenced by visiting Judge Michael Duffy on April 9 when relatives of the women killed due to the crash are expected to present victim-impact statements.