VISTA — A judge declared a mistrial July 6
in the case of a woman accused of killing two North County couples during a head-on collision.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino made the decision after jurors informed him last week that they were deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt that Deanna Fridley had been the driver and under the influence of alcohol and drugs when the accident occurred Dec. 14, 2007, near Pala Casino.
Fridley’s attorney, James Boyd, had requested the mistrial, while prosecutor Brenda Daly asked the judge to replace the lone holdout juror with one of the alternatives and restart the deliberations.
“I’m really happy,” said Boyd, adding that he was pleased they were able to convince at least one person that his client wasn’t driving.
Fridley, who was criminally charged a month after the accident with four counts of murder, has maintained she was not behind the wheel of the GMC Yukon at the time of the fatal collision. The 26-year-old testified she and her passenger, Anthony Boles, switched positions in the vehicle shortly after leaving Pala Casino because she realized she was too impaired to drive; a surveillance tape from the casino shows Fridley entering the driver side of the Yukon around 11:47 p.m. — approximately three minutes before the crash occurred.
Daly alleged Fridley was traveling around 85 mph on state Route 76 when she lost control of the SUV and slammed into a Toyota Camry killing Jesus De Santiago, 45, and his wife, Lina De Santiago, 46, of Escondido and Vista couple Luis Baez, 51, and his wife, Rubi Baez, 46.
“It’s disappointing and it’s frustrating,” said Daly regarding the mistrial.
The District Attorney’s office will retry the case. A status conference is set for July 15, at which time a new trial date maybe set.
Fridley, a member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, remains in custody on $3 million bail. She faces four 15 to life in prison terms if convicted as charged.