The preliminary hearing for 18-year-old David Attias, who is charged with 13 felony counts for the Feb. 23 fatal traffic incident in Isla Vista, was set for June 14 at an arraignment last week.
Attias, a former UCSB freshman, allegedly ran his car into five pedestrians, killing four of them and critically wounding a fifth, Albert Levy. Levy is now listed in stable condition in Davies Medical Center in San Francisco. Attias has been charged with four counts of murder, four counts of vehicular manslaughter, five counts of felony driving under the influence with injuries and two counts of misdemeanor assault.
The results of a blood test taken by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) the night of the accident have shown traces of THC, a chemical found in marijuana, and lidocaine, a local anesthetic. CHP Officer Mike Muell said the presence of these chemicals in Attias’ blood is consistent with the DUI charges the district attorney filed against Attias.
“The tests found [Attias] positive for marijuana and lidocaine. What lidocaine is, is a local anesthetic – most dentists use it. It’s also used as a cutting agent in the manufacturing of illegal drugs,” he said.
At an arraignment Monday, March 26, Attias’ defense attorneys moved to dismiss evidence collected by the CHP on the grounds that the accumulation of the evidence was in violation of Attias’ civil rights. Judge Joseph Lodge, who heard the arraignment, requested that the defense provide the court with specifics before any evidence is dismissed. Muell said the evidence the defense initially objected to included the recording of a phone call from Attias to a member of the defense team, as well as records seized from a program in Vermont that Attias attended his sophomore year in high school.
“The outgoing phone calls Attias made from jail were taped, and one of these conversations was taped between he and a gentleman who is part of the defense team,” Muell said. “The CHP were made a tape of the conversation, and when they figured out it was part of the defense team, they stopped the tape and gave it to the DA, who gave it to the defense. The CHP only listened to a short amount of it. The defense is saying [the CHP investigation] violated the attorney-client privacy, and the case should be thrown out and the evidence dismissed.”
Muell said the defense has also requested that evidence collected from the Woodlen Lodge Program Attias attended during his sophomore year in high school also be dismissed. The one-year program, intended to provide a structured setting to aid students’ academic performance, is geared toward teens with problems ranging from behavioral problems to drug abuse.
“The CHP also went to one of Attias’ former schools, which was a special need or attention type school, and we served a legal search warrant. The defense would like to have that dismissed because I think they consider the school, and any records there, like talking to a psychiatrist, so it should be confidential,” Muell said. “What the judge said was he wanted specifics … he said, ‘Give me specific documents and come up with reasons why they should be dismissed,’ and if they come back with specifics, he will consider them.”
The June 14 preliminary hearing will take place in the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse.