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The Region

Charge in CHP Death Is Reduced

October 01, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Riverside County prosecutors have reduced the charge against the driver arrested in the traffic death of a California Highway Patrol officer to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter after drug tests came back negative.

The county district attorney's office had originally charged Miguel Angel Martin, the driver, with felony driving under the influence resulting in injury, after the Aug. 27 accident that killed officer Shannon Distel.

Distel was traveling east on Van Buren Boulevard west of Dauchy Avenue south of Riverside when Martin, driving a Toyota pickup towing a trailer, allegedly made an illegal left turn in front of him.

Distel, a former Marine from Murrieta, was thrown from his motorcycle and died at Riverside County Regional Medical Center.

CHP investigators indicated that Martin was under the influence of marijuana at the time, but blood tests showed no marijuana in Martin's system. The felony charge could have carried an eight-year prison sentence.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Martin's trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 20.

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