Woman charged with murder in DUI crash


SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A woman who was on probation for DUI when she allegedly got behind the wheel while drunk and was involved in a crash that killed another motorist in Rancho Bernardo pleaded not guilty Friday to a second-degree murder charge.

Freesia Vargas, 24, faces 15 years to life in state prison if convicted of causing the Jan. 6 death of 71-year-old John Atcheson, whose car was struck at the intersection of Meandro Drive and Rancho Bernardo Road.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Atcheson was “killed almost instantly.”

Vargas, who suffered serious injuries in the crash, was on probation for a prior DUI at the time and was speeding, the prosecutor alleged.

Vargas had a .14% blood alcohol content a few hours after the crash, according to Bright.

At Vargas’ arraignment, defense attorney Herb Weston said the initial finding of the crash indicated his client was not at fault.

At the time, police said Atcheson pulled out in front of a 2001 Toyota Tacoma that was headed east on Rancho Bernardo Road and was broadsided.

Bail was set at $250,000 for Vargas, who’s due back in court Oct. 20 for a readiness conference.

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