Woman accused in Fiesta Island crash competent to stand trial - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman accused in Fiesta Island crash competent to stand trial

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A woman who was allegedly on drugs when she drove into a group of cyclists on Fiesta Island, critically injuring one rider, was Friday found mentally competent to stand trial.

After a day of conflicting testimony Thursday from two doctors and closing arguments this morning, a jury took 40 minutes to reach its verdict in the case of Theresa Lynn Owens, 49.

She will now proceed to trial on charges of felony driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine.

Owens also faces a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of drugs from a separate incident and was on misdemeanor probation for disturbing the peace when she was arrested in the Fiesta Island crash.

Dr. Clark Smith testified that Owens was incompetent to stand trial because, in his opinion, she was unable to assist her attorney in preparing her defense.

But Dr. Matthew Carroll testified that based on two interviews with the defendant, he concluded she understands the charges against her and is capable of assisting in her own defense.

Owens drove the wrong way on a one-way road about 6:30 p.m. last Aug. 12, plowing into a group of 16-20 cyclists, hitting 10 of the riders head-on, according to Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto.

The defendant got out of her car and appeared to be under the influence of drugs, screaming and acting erratically, according to witnesses. She was taken to a hospital, where a baggie of methamphetamine was found in a body cavity, the prosecutor said.

One of the cyclists, Juan Carlos Vinolo, was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

Superior Court Judge Runston Maino reinstated criminal proceedings and scheduled a readiness conference for May 15 and a preliminary hearing for May 21. Owens faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted, Coto said.

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