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Suspect in Fatality Released but Investigation Continues

October 22, 1994|SUSAN MARQUEZ OWEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

County authorities on Friday released a 25-year-old man whose car struck and killed a pedestrian Sunday in Silverado Canyon, saying they need more time to prepare charges against him.

The decision to free Shane Young from Orange County Jail came after California Highway Patrol investigators presented their evidence Friday to a prosecutor, who decided the investigation was not thorough enough, said CHP spokeswoman Angel Johnson.

Assistant Dist. Atty. Steve Perk asked the CHP to re-interview witnesses and wait for the results of a toxicology report, Johnson said.

The report is expected to show whether Young was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when his car struck Jasmin Cook, 20, and two other people.

"We were surprised and very disappointed," Johnson said. "But we hope to ask for charges to be filed at a later date, possibly in a week."

Authorities had expected to arraign Young Friday in Central Municipal Court in Santa Ana on charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and felony driving under the influence. The first charge carries a prison sentence of four to 10 years.

State law requires that a suspect be released if charges have not been filed within two working days.

Johnson could not say what witnesses need to be re-interviewed, or what evidence is lacking. She said the decision by the prosecutor not to file charges was unusual in such a high-profile case.

Young was arrested last Sunday after he struck three people on narrow Silverado Canyon Road while racing another driver, police said. The second driver, Clint Wamsley, 19, also was arrested and has been released.

The crash killed Cook and injured her two companions, Shane Graham, 19, and Timothy Smart, 21. Most of those involved in the crash were friends and neighbors in the tight-knit community of Silverado Canyon. Young and Cook were particularly good friends.

Cook's sister and aunt said they support authorities' efforts to get to the truth of the matter.

"We want them to investigate until they have a real answer, one that will stand up in court," said Cook's aunt, Georgia Spence of Lake Forest, as she placed flowers near the roadside spot where her niece was killed.

Spence said that she and other family members bear Young no grudge. "He's already received a lifelong sentence. I'm sure the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up is 'Jasmine' and when he goes to sleep at night and is tossing and turning, it's 'Jasmine, Jasmine, Jasmine.' "

Staff writers Anna Cekola, Rene Lynch, Leslie Berkman and Mark I. Pinsky contributed to this report.

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