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Prosecutor says woman charged with murder of four people in traffic collision "knew she shouldn't have been driving"

VISTA - A woman charged with murder for a traffic collision that killed four people near the Pala Casino knew what she was doing when she drove while under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine, a prosecutor said today.

Deanna Fridley, 26, faces four counts of murder and other charges.

In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Brenda Daly told jurors that Fridley drove more than 85 mph and repeatedly crossed double-yellow lines in the moments leading up to the Dec. 14, 2007, crash that took the lives of Luis De Santiago and his wife Lina, and Luis Baez and his wife Rubi.

"[Fridley] knew that she should not be driving while she was drunk and under the influence of methamphetamine,''said Daly.

Fridley reportedly spent part of the evening drinking and smoking meth with her best friend, Amber Arviso, who herself was responsible for injuring several people in an alcohol-related collision just a month earlier, according to the prosecutor.

Daly said the women were joined by Anthony Boles, and Arviso was later left behind after an argument.

The defendant and Boles were returning to pick up Arviso when the crash happened just before midnight on a curve on State Route 76, nearly three miles from Pala Casino.

The two couples were on their way home from a night of gambling when Luis De Santiago's Toyota Camry was struck head-on by Fridley's GMC Yukon.

The driver, 45, and Lina, 46, died on impact, Daly said. Rubi Baez, 46, was pulled from the wreckage but pronounced dead at the scene, and her 51-year-old husband died at a hospital.

"All lost their lives because the defendant made her choices," said Daly.

Daly said Fridley and Boles were pulled from the flaming Yukon and hospitalized with broken bones. Her blood-alcohol level was .12 percent and she tested positive for methamphetamine, the prosecutor said.

Fridley's attorney, James Boyd, will give his opening statement tomorrow. He previously alleged that Boles was driving, not his client.

Daly showed jurors surveillance tape from the casino parking lot that shows Fridley getting into the driver's seat of the Yukon. She also said witnesses reported pulling Fridley from the driver's side of the burning SUV, and rescuing Boles from the passenger side.

"It was a gruesome and chaotic scene," Daly said.

Fridley faces multiple life terms in state prison if convicted.

 

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