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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

Judge Rejects Oakmont Repeat DUI Driver's Challenge to Conviction for Vehicular Homicide

Santa Rosa, CA  –  January 2, 2018  –  District Attorney Jill Ravitch has announced that the Honorable Elliot L. Daum denied the challenge to her conviction by defendant Gayle Diane Gray, 79years old, of Santa Rosa. Gray sought reversal of her conviction for charges related to the fatal collision she caused after driving with alcohol and drugs in her system on January 20, 2016. Gray claimed that her trial attorney failed to investigate possible mental impairment defenses prior to her pleading to all charges before the Honorable Jamie Thistlethwaite on the day scheduled for her preliminary hearing, May 4, 2016. Gray’s trial attorney, Stephen Gallenson, argued at sentencing for a grant of probation, or home confinement. However, Judge Thistlethwaite rejected those arguments, and sentenced Gray to state prison for a term of seven years, four months. Gray filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking to reverse her conviction on constitutional grounds. 

District Attorney Ravitch stated, “This was a very serious case that warranted the significant sentence that was imposed after Ms. Gray had ample opportunity to present any mitigating information. The denial of the habeas petition will afford the families of the victims some comfort that the matter is now closed. Many lives were lost and forever damaged due to avoidable conduct of Ms. Gray. This case is a sad reminder to all of us of how dangerous it is to drink and drive.”

Gray was convicted of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for the death of Jackie Simon, 85, and DUI causing great bodily injury for victim Josephine Ross, then 91. Both victims resided in Oakmont, as did Gray. The charges resulted from the fatal collision when Gray hit the elderly pedestrians as she exited the Oakmont Village Market, just after one p.m. Gray failed filed sobriety tests, and refused to provide preliminary alcohol breath tests after investigating officers told her they could smell alcohol on her breath. Police sought a warrant for her blood sample, taken nearly four hours after the crash, which showed she had a .052% blood alcohol level, and the presence of several medications which when combined with alcohol, increase impairment. Gray had previously been convicted twice for DUI, both with high blood alcohol levels, and one involving a crash. Judge Daum conducted an evidentiary hearing over 7 days regarding her claims that she had suffered strokes which were the cause of the crash, not the alcohol and drugs.

Deputy District Attorneys Chris Honigsberg and Robert Maddock litigated the writ proceedings, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Robyn Katz. Santa Rosa Police Officer Michael Mieger headed the investigation.

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Joe Langenbahn
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Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
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Santa Rosa, CA 95403
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