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Teen driver charged in fatal drunk driving crash

Teen driver charged in fatal drunk driving crash

(CNS) - A teen accused of crashing a car carrying four of his Torrey Pines High School classmates, killing one of them as they left a party, will be held at Juvenile Hall until at least Oct. 19, a judge ruled yesterday.

The 17-year-old driver -- who was not hurt in Sunday's crash -- is charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated and two counts of DUI causing great bodily injury.

Defense attorney Robert Bourne argued unsuccessfully that the boy should be released to his parents, because he is an "exceptional student" and has no history of problems with school administrators.

The high school senior is also a star athlete who just a few months ago made the San Diego Hall of Champions All-League team for lacrosse.

Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod told Judge George "Woody" Clarke that the youth may have a drug problem, and that his parents had been testing him for drug use.

McLeod added that right before the accident, the teen was speeding and that his blood-alcohol content was 0.10 percent about an hour after the crash.

The boy wore a Juvenile Hall-issued orange shirt and navy blue pants at today's detention hearing. His hands were shackled and he did not look at his parents in the courtroom.

When the judge asked the boy's parents if they wanted to say anything on behalf of their son, the father declined and deferred any comment to Bourne.

Prosecutors said the teenager will not be tried as an adult.

McLeod declined to elaborate on what the teen faces if he's convicted, but did point out the difference between juvenile and adult court.

"In adult court, the focus is punishment," the prosecutor said outside court. "In Juvenile Court, the focus is rehabilitation. Regardless of the crime, we are very focused on the minor and the family. Some consequences are custody, some are programs and sometimes it's a combination of both." 

A California Highway Patrol report said a combination of alcohol and speed contributed to the pre-dawn accident.

Alexander Michael Capozza, 17, died about 1:40 a.m. Sunday in the 5000 block of La Granada in Rancho Santa Fe when the speeding 2008 Mazda 3 crashed and rolled several times, ending up in some bushes, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

Another passenger -- who was not wearing a seat belt -- was critically injured in the accident, while the other two 17-year-olds escaped serious injury, authorities said.

CHP Sgt. Lewis Hall said his agency and the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control are trying to determine where the students had been drinking, how they may have acquired the alcohol and if adults were involved. He also said illegal drugs may have been a factor.


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