Wearing an orange detention shirt and wrist shackles, the teenage driver accused of manslaughter and drunk driving in a tragic North County collision made his first court appearance Wednesday morning.
The teenage driver's parents watched closely from the visitor’s section as the boy's attorney urged Judge George "Woody" Clarke to release the 17-year-old from custody and allow him to serve home detention and return to school.
But Deputy District Aimee McLeod opposed that request. She revealed that a sobriety test taken by the teen one hour after the crash showed a .10 blood alcohol level, which is above the .08 legal limit for adults. The prosecutor also countered claims by the defense attorney that the teenage defendant was not a drug user.
She said the driver told officers at the scene that he had stopped using drugs two months ago, because his parents make him take routine drug tests, and that he has admitted he has a drug problem.
The teen's attorney, Robert Bourne, countered that the teen has support from his teachers and coaches at Torrey Pines High School, has perfect attendance and is an "exceptional student". The attorney said the boy's parents described the boy's actions in the deadly crash as "completely out of left field" compared with his usual behavior.
The teen’s parents declined an opportunity to speak on their son's behalf, and Judge Clarke followed the recommendation of the probation department, ordering the teen to remain in custody.
The defense attorney, speaking for the teen, formally denied the charges again him.
The judge did allow the boy's parents and stepparents to have a "special visit" with the teen after he was returned to custody.
The teen will be back in court on October 19th for a readiness hearing.