Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Plea in Quigley Case

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Press release just issued by the District Attorney Office:

Today, jury selection in the People versus Whitmill and Flores trial was interrupted when the two defendants entered guilty pleas to the criminal charges related to the death of Nicole Quigley on October 6, 2008. Jason Whitmill, who was 32 years old at the time, and Anthony Flores, who was 19 years old at the time, were racing on highway 299 at speeds of 100 mph when they encountered a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Debra Quigley with her two twin daughters and their friend in the vehicle. The Tahoe was struck by the vehicle driven by defendant Jason Whitmill and rolled off the highway. Nicole Quigley, aged 9, died at the scene as a result of her injuries. Debra Quigley suffered serious injuries. The other two passengers survived and were not seriously injured.

Defendant Whitmill's car also overturned and he and his wife were outside of the vehicle when law enforcement arrived on the scene. Defendant Flores fled from the accident and was not detained until later.

Defendant Whitmill's blood was drawn and later found to have a .10 blood alcohol level.

Defendant Whitmill pled guilty to Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated and Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol causing bodily injury to Debra Quigley. He also admitted his three prior prison terms. He will be sentenced to state prison on December 11 for the term of 14 years and 8 months.

The case has been delayed in going to trial as the defense has appealed the issue of defendant Whitmill's blood being drawn without his consent at a time when it was unknown who the driver of the vehicle was. Neither the Court of Appeal nor the Supreme Court ruled on the issue thus far and it remains a question that could result in a reversal of the case after trial. Given that issue, the prosecution made the decision to accept the plea. The murder charge was dismissed in exchange for his plea to these counts with the agreement he would waive his appeal rights and be sentenced to the maximum term for each count.

Defendant Flores pled guilty to Gross Vehicular Manslaughter and Hit and Run. He will be sentenced on December 11 to 3 years in prison. He has also waived his appeal rights.

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