Friday, January 30, 2015

Woodland hit-and-run case set for trial

From page A4 | September 13, 2013 |

WOODLAND — An October trial has been scheduled for a Woodland woman charged with fleeing the scene of a fatal pedestrian accident in July.

Kristal Ellen Sutton, 28, pleaded not guilty to the felony hit-and-run charge at her arraignment Tuesday, two weeks after a Yolo Superior Court judge ruled there was sufficient evidence for the case to go before a jury. Her trial is slated to begin Oct. 28.

Sutton is accused of leaving the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store on East Main Street after striking and killing 58-year-old Alisa Valerie Horner with her car on the night of June 30.

According to a transcript of the Aug. 27 preliminary hearing, Sutton had gone to the convenience store for a soft drink and was returning to her vehicle when she encountered Horner shortly after 10 p.m.

Officer Lear Luttrell testified that he obtained video surveillance footage from the store, which showed Horner approaching the driver’s side of Sutton’s car, followed by a “verbal altercation” between the two women.

Sutton put the car in reverse, “and as she’s backing up, Ms. Horner is following Ms. Sutton, trying to stay with the driver side of her vehicle,” Luttrell said under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Robin Johnson. He said the video then showed Sutton slowly driving forward and going over what appears to be a speed bump, though there are none in that parking lot.

“The vehicle stops for a little while, and then leaves the scene,” Luttrell said. Witnesses later reported that Sutton got out of her car and admitted to hitting Horner, claiming that the other woman had attacked her. She then cursed at the gathering crowd and drove away, despite witnesses’ orders for her to stay put.

Police arrived to find Horner lying on her side in the middle of the parking lot, unconscious and bleeding from her nose but still breathing. She had tire marks across her torso, Luttrell recalled.

Horner was transported to the UC Davis Medical Center, where she died of her injuries two days later. Witnesses who encountered Horner prior to the incident reported smelling “a very strong odor” of alcohol on her, another officer testified.

Officers arrested Sutton at her home two blocks away from the 7-Eleven store on the night of the incident, using the license-plate number from her vehicle to identify her.

Sutton, who gave a statement to Luttrell prior to her arrest, said Horner had blocked her from shutting her car door and told her “she needed to come see this guy,” Luttrell recalled. Sutton said Horner “stuck her whole face inside the window and … slapped Ms. Sutton in the face.”

Sutton said she pushed Horner’s face out of the car, but Horner jumped in front of the vehicle as she put it into drive, according to Luttrell. When asked why she fled the scene, “she stated that she didn’t have any insurance and she didn’t want her vehicle towed by the Police Department.”

Sutton’s estranged husband, Kirk Roberts, told police Sutton also fled because “she was being attacked and she was scared,” Officer Matthew Gray, also of the Woodland Police Department, testified at the hearing.

Under cross-examination by Sutton’s attorney, Public Defender Tracie Olson, Gray said Sutton had asked about Horner’s condition during an interview at the Yolo County Jail, and that Sutton took the news of Horner’s death badly.

“She was visibly upset. She was crying,” Gray said. But in subsequent questioning by prosecutor Johnson, Gray also recalled that Sutton said she had checked on Horner after striking her and, seeing no blood, deemed she was not hurt enough to require hospitalization.

Judge Timothy Fall, who presided over the hearing, declined a request by Olson to reduce the hit-and-run charge to a misdemeanor, citing Sutton’s “mixed motive, if not a disputed motive for leaving.”

“That is a decision better made should there be a conviction,” Fall said.

Sutton remains free on $75,000 bail while her case is pending.

— Reach Lauren Keene at [email protected] or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene





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