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Custody deputy accused of felony DUI pleads not guilty in first court appearance

Custody deputy accused of felony DUI pleads not guilty in first court appearance


The Santa Barbara County sheriff's custody deputy accused of felony DUI pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance Wednesday at Superior Court in Santa Maria. 

Javier Jonathan Antunez, 44, was dressed out in a suit and using crutches as he briefly appeared with his attorney before Judge Gustavo Lavayen. 

Lavayen agreed to set a date of Jan. 6 for a preliminary hearing in Superior Court's Department 6. 

Antunez is charged in connection to a Sept. 14 three-vehicle crash just east of the Cachuma Lake Recreational Area on Highway 154 that injured six people, including himself. It's not clear what the extent of Antunez's injuries are.

One of the victims of the crash was identified as Judith Hall, who is a Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office investigator. The other four who sustained injuries were Esther Trejokembaiyee, Enrique Calderon Mendez, Dolores Gutierrez and Evelia Dominguez. 

Antunez faces two felony DUI charges -- driving under the influence and causing injury, and driving under the influence with greater than a .08% blood alcohol content and causing injury -- and one habitual offender enhancement. 

Josh Lynn, Antunez's attorney, described the case as "complicated" as he asked the judge to enter a general time waiver for his client. 

Antunez remains out of jail on bond with a $150,000 bail amount posted, according to court records. 

The case is being prosecuted by Jonathan Kline of the California Attorney General's Office rather than the District Attorney's Office to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest. 

Antunez is scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 6 at Superior Court in Santa Maria. 

County Lines: Triple-fatal crash on Hwy 154 sparks brush fire near Cold Spring Bridge; Police investigating after juvenile shot himself in arm during fight

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