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California and the West

Attias Pleads Not Guilty in Isla Vista Deaths

March 07, 2001|SALLY ANN CONNELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SANTA BARBARA — UC Santa Barbara freshman David Attias appeared in court Tuesday, pleading not guilty to 13 charges--including four general counts of murder--stemming from a Feb. 23 incident in which his car careened down a crowded Isla Vista street and slammed into a group of pedestrians.

Without making eye contact with his parents in the front row, Attias was arraigned before Santa Barbara Superior Court Commissioner Edward de Caro.

Handcuffed and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, the spiky-haired 18-year-old paid close attention to defense attorney Robert Sanger during the short session. He did not turn to acknowledge his parents, Hollywood television and film director Daniel Attias and his wife, Diana, or anyone else in the half-filled courtroom. When the commissioner asked if he agreed to the not-guilty pleas, the suspect answered, "Yes."

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 26.

The charges against Attias include four counts of murder, four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and five counts of driving under the influence of drugs and causing great bodily injury. Prosecutors noted in a press release that "no degree of murder is nor need be" specified in the current complaint. To prove a first-degree charge, prosecutors would have to show that Attias deliberately--not accidentally--struck the pedestrians.

Officials are still awaiting the results of tests on blood taken from Attias the night of the crash to determine if he had been using drugs or alcohol.

The carnage leading to Tuesday's arraignment occurred on Friday night in Isla Vista. . Attias reportedly drove his Saab at speeds approaching 60 mph on busy Sabado Tarde into a crowd. Four people were killed and one seriously injured.

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