DUI suspect in fatal Rancho Penasquitos crash faces judge
SAN DIEGO — A motorist who was allegedly drunk when he caused a head-on crash in Rancho Penasquitos that killed the other driver pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while impaired and DUI causing great bodily injury.
Anthony Perez Rodriguez, 30, was allowed to remain free on his already posted $100,000 bail. He faces 12 years in prison if convicted in the death of 61-year-old Enid Mayer-Sheaf of Chula Vista.
San Diego police said Rodriguez was headed east in the 14100 block of Carmel Valley Road on July 22 when his Fiat 500 veered into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into the victim’s 1987 Chevy Nova shortly before 6:30 p.m.
Mayer-Sheaf died at the scene.
During today’s arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright unsuccessfully argued for the defendant’s bail to be increased to $600,000, saying Rodriguez spent the day drinking at a San Diego Padres game, at the Tilted Kilt restaurant/bar, then in Pacific Beach.
Bright said that after the crash, Rodriguez told police he had consumed only one beer, one margarita and one shot.
But the prosecutor said that 90 minutes after the accident, the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was measured at between .15 and .16 percent, which would have put his blood-alcohol level at about .18 or .19 percent at the time of the crash.
Bright alleged that given the blood-alcohol level, a person of Rodriguez’s height and weight would have had about 10 alcoholic drinks in his system when he was driving.
The prosecutor said that based on tire-friction marks, the victim was trying to avoid the crash by veering to the right when she was hit.
Bright said that after the crash, Rodriguez blamed the victim, saying she came into his lane of traffic.
The prosecutor added that the crash marked a double tragedy for the victim’s family, noting that Mayer-Sheaf was returning from the hospital where her mother-in-law had just died from an illness when the accident happened.
Defense attorney Jan Ronis told the judge that Rodriguez lives in San Diego, has no prior criminal record and works at a new car dealership.
Ronis said his client is already wearing an electronic device that alerts authorities if he’s been drinking.
Bright said, however, that 70 percent of all DUI fatalities in the United States are caused by first-time DUI offenders.
Judge David Szumowski ordered Rodriguez to refrain from driving, drinking, and to surrender his temporary driver’s license issued after the crash.
A readiness conference was scheduled for Aug. 18 and a preliminary hearing for Sept. 24.