SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A 72-year-old man accused of plowing a station wagon into a San Diego sidewalk homeless encampment, killing three people and injuring several others, will be released from county jail and placed on house arrest, a judge ordered Tuesday.
Craig Martin Voss, who previously was held on $1 million bail, was charged earlier this month with three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of driving under the influence of drugs causing injury in connection with the March 15 morning crash on B Street near San Diego City College.
The defendant’s Volvo struck the victims after veering onto the sidewalk just after 9 a.m. beneath an overpass on B Street, according to investigators. A prosecutor alleged Tuesday that Voss’ vehicle only stopped because so much debris was trapped beneath the front wheels, preventing the Volvo from moving farther.
Killed in the crash were Rodney Diffendal, 40; Randy Ferris, 65; and Walter Jones, 61.
The San Diego resident remained at the scene, where he was arrested.
Voss faces 20 years and eight months in state prison if convicted of all charges.
Following a bail review hearing Tuesday afternoon, San Diego Superior Court Judge Francis Devaney ordered Voss to be placed on house arrest. He is required to wear a GPS monitoring device and drug screening patch, must surrender his driver’s license, and submit to random drug screenings.
Defense attorney Kristen Haden cited last week’s California Supreme Court ruling in her argument for release, which requires judges to consider a defendant’s ability to pay, in addition to concerns regarding public safety and the risk of flight.
The attorney argued that Voss remaining at the scene of the crash showed he was not a flight risk, and argued there were significant risks of COVID-19 complications while incarcerated due to his age and prior medical issues. Haden also said her client is unable to work due to a prior stroke and lacks the financial resources to afford bail.
Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright argued for Voss to remain in custody, saying the house arrest conditions would not necessarily prevent Voss from getting behind the wheel of a car. Though Voss’ car has been impounded as part of the investigation, he lives with his wife, who has a vehicle.
Bright alleged that a toxicology screening showed Voss had a “low level of methamphetamine, level of amphetamine, and another prescription drug” in his system. Voss had a methamphetamine pipe in his pocket when he was arrested, Bright said, and also admitted he is on several other medications to treat various conditions, including diabetes and arrhythmia.
Devaney agreed with the defense that Voss was not a flight risk, but did express concerns related to public safety.
However, the judge said that following the recent Supreme Court ruling and the potential COVID-19 risks, it was not appropriate to hold Voss in custody and that with the conditions placed on Voss as part of his release, “I’m confident we can protect the public from something like this happening again.”
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