SAN DIEGO — A San Diego jury deadlocked Thursday on a second-degree murder count in the trial of a drunken driver who went the wrong way and crashed head-on into another car in 4S Ranch, killing the other motorist.
Jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt on the murder count filed against Alexandria Bayne, 37, though the same panel convicted Bayne on Wednesday of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury. The jury also acquitted Bayne of four child endangerment counts involving allegations that she drove drunk earlier in the day while her children were riding in her minivan.
San Diego County Superior Court Judge Robert F. O’Neill declared a mistrial as to the murder charge and dismissed the jury Thursday afternoon.
A Sept. 6 status conference was set to determine whether a retrial will be pursued on the murder count.
Bayne is charged in the Dec. 17, 2016, death of Sarita Shakya, a 38- year-old Scripps Mercy Hospital nurse, who was headed home just before midnight when her car was struck head-on by the defendant’s vehicle on Camino Del Norte.
Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright told jurors in her opening statement that Bayne had been drinking alcoholic beverages throughout the day, starting that morning. The defendant and her attorney conceded she’d been drinking but was not drunk when she was behind the wheel. Though she testified that she had eight drinks throughout that day, she told the jury she simply made a mistake when she turned into opposing traffic lanes on Camino Del Norte.
Bayne’s attorney, Michelle Hunsaker, contended that Bayne made that mistake because she was distracted by family issues, as well as her cell phone.
Prosecutors said her blood alcohol content was measured at between .32 and .33% — the legal limit is .08% — after the crash.
Hunsaker disputed that testing result, saying Bayne’s alcohol consumption “just doesn’t line up” with the .33% BAC alleged by the prosecution. She also said Bayne had encountered several people throughout the day and did not appear intoxicated.
“We are not discounting the magnitude of the loss of Ms. Shakya and take full responsibility for that collision. But distraction does not equal murder,” Hunsaker said.
Shakya’s husband, Peter Chen, testified that his wife typically returned home sometime after midnight each night following her shift at the hospital. When she didn’t show up, he called her supervisor, who didn’t know why Shakya might be late.
Hours later, he received the bad news. “I couldn’t believe what had happened,” Chen said, calling it “the worst day of my life.”
The defendant was charged with murder due to two previous DUI convictions from 2005 and 2008. She remains in custody without bail.