ESCONDIDO — A San Diego Superior Court judge on Feb. 18 ordered that bail for a woman accused of covering up a fatal hit-and-run accident in Escondido for more than two years will remain at $2 million.
Marlene Resendiz, 17, was killed around 5 p.m. Nov. 24, 2007, after being struck while crossing East Grand Avenue near Fairdale Avenue by Tiffany St. Ives, Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai said in court. After being hit, Lai said Resendiz had been carried about 400 feet on the hood of St. Ive’s black Nissan sedan.
Following Judge Martin Staven’s ruling, a brief applause erupted from Resendiz’s family members and friends who were in attendance. The judge citied St. Ives’ ongoing attempts to cover up the crime as one of the reasons for maintaining the high bail.
Outside the courtroom, Teresa Venegas, the victim’s younger sister, said her family was happy with the judge’s decision to keep the bail high.
“She’s trying to put herself like she didn’t do anything wrong, but she did,” Venegas said.
St. Ives, 54, has pleaded not guilty to one count of felony hit-and-run relating to the teenager’s death. The charge carries a maximum of four years in prison. Police said Resendiz, a Valley High School student, was crossing legally at the lit intersection. She had just left her fiance’s house. The couple was only several weeks away from their wedding.
Because investigators were not able to determine whether the accident had been caused by St. Ives or if Resendiz failed to yield to the defendant, St. Ives is only charged with leaving the scene of the fatal collision, defense attorney Brad Patton said.
Patton argued to have his client’s bail reduced to $100,000, the standard bail for the crime, citing that she has strong ties to the community and is not a flight risk.
Ives, of Valley Center, has owned The Purple Cow & Friends, an animal rescue farm, for 20 years, Patton said. “This animal sanctuary is her life,” he said.
Patton called the high bail “grossly excessive” for such a low rate felony charge. He said he believed the only reason it was set so high was because when police arrested St. Ives she had her passport on her and told them she frequently travels to Tijuana and Mexico.
Patton said St. Ives only goes to Mexico for medical and dental work, which he said has been verified through her medical records. When she was arrested, he said St. Ives was on the phone with him traveling to her home.
Additionally, Patton said he worried about St. Ives health in jail because of several physical ailments she suffers from. “I think her health is at great risk,” he said. However, Lai argued St. Ives may have known that police were on to her. He said the witness who blew the whistle on St. Ives’ cover up left a message on her answering machine prior to her arrest informing her he was thinking about going to the police.
It was that same witness who St. Ives had paint her black Nissan to gold, wash it down with bleach and purchase parts through a junkyard as opposed to a dealer, Lai said. In addition, the prosecutor said St. Ives would also cover the car anytime a helicopter would fly over.
“The charges themselves speak of a flight risk,” the prosecutor said.
Investigators have placed St. Ives and her vehicle in the area on the evening of the accident through a photo from a red light camera and a check she cashed at a near by market, Lai said.
Since the 2007 hit-and-run accident, Lai said St. Ives has been involved in four other traffic accidents. Also, in 2006, she was involved in another hit-and-run case that was handled in civil courts.
St. Ives’ preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 1.