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.
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
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.
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.