The woman accused of slamming into a group of cyclists on Fiesta Island said her boyfriend “appeared and then disappeared,” somehow causing the crash, a psychiatrist testified Thursday.
Theresa Owens, 49, is undergoing a mental competency trial to determine if she is fit to face charges of felony DUI causing injury and possession of a controlled substance.
Police say she was under the influence of methamphetamine on Aug. 12 when she drove the wrong way on the Mission Bay island and hit about 10 cyclists. During her arrest, a bag of meth was found in her vagina, prosecutors allege.
At Owens’ mental competency trial, Dr. Clark Smith, a psychiatrist for the defense, discussed his Feb. 3 evaluation of Owens.
When he asked about the incident, Owens blamed everything on her boyfriend, he said.
"Her belief was that he had appeared and then disappeared,” Smith testified, “moved to different part of Fiesta Island in an effort to make her try to follow him and that somehow — and it doesn't make logical sense — but somehow this caused her to have this accident."
Getting information from Owens was a frustrating process, Smith said. He had to repeat questions five or six times, and she would talk nonstop about psychotic delusions about her mother and boyfriend, according to the psychiatrist.
"My diagnosis of Ms. Owens is that she has bipolar disorder with chronic or long-standing mania and psychotic features, but also depressive features,” said Smith.
But as Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto pointed out in her opening statements, it is the defense’s burden to prove Owens is mentally incompetent to stand trial.
To face charges, Owens must understand the court proceedings and help her lawyer in her own defense, Coto told the jury.
A psychiatrist for the prosecution, who evaluated Owens two weeks ago, said she met those qualifications, according to Coto.
"She fully understood what she was being charged with, what the system was all about and how this process was going to occur,” she said.
The prosecution’s psychiatrist is expected to testify at a later point. In the meantime, all criminal proceedings against Owens remain on hold.
Ten people were injured in the Fiesta Island crash in August, including La Jolla father Juan Carlos Vinolo, who is now paralyzed.
The crash prompted the city of San Diego to improve signs and road safety in the area to prevent another incident.