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Lompoc judge denies mental health diversion for woman accused in fatal car wreck

Lompoc judge denies mental health diversion for woman accused in fatal car wreck

  • Updated
Arevalo, Dinara

Arevalo

A Lompoc Superior Court judge denied a mental health diversion request for a woman accused of felony vehicular manslaughter after crashing her car following a police pursuit near Refugio State Beach in October 2018.

Superior Court Judge Raimundo Montes de Oca on Aug. 27 denied the request for Dinara Arevalo, 26, of Lompoc who also is charged with evading a police officer, plus an enhancement of causing great bodily injury. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

A diversion program would allow Arevalo to receive treatment in exchange for waiving her right to a trial, but a judge must determine that she doesn't pose an "unreasonable" risk to the community.  

Montes de Oca cited Arevalo's reluctance to take medication and refusal to disclose her symptoms to providers and denied her request, although he allowed her to renew the diversion request at a later time.

Charges stem from the Oct. 1, 2018, collision, when Arevalo's 2001 Toyota RAV4 crashed into a 2018 Toyota Tacoma driven by 60-year-old Brett Bronstad of Santa Barbara. 

She crashed after attempting to pass slower-moving traffic on the right shoulder while evading California Highway Patrol officers who had spotted her driving recklessly, said CHP Officer Joel Asmussen.

Bronstad's passenger, Michael Garcia, 58, of Santa Barbara, died Oct. 11, 2019, from injuries related to the crash, according to the CHP. 

Arevalo later told doctors that "God and the devil intervened" during the incident, according to court records. 

In her assessment, defense psychologist Dr. Susan Ferrant said Arevalo has a mental health history and may suffer from schizophrenia. 

On the prosecution's side, Dr. Susan Ashley said Arevalo most likely suffers from an unspecified psychotic diagnosis but that her explanation for the incident "developed inconsistently over time."

Montes de Oca said the mental health treatment program meets Arevalo's needs but "only if (she) candidly expresses her ongoing symptoms to the treatment provider." 

Arevalo is scheduled to appear again at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 9 in Superior Court of Santa Maria. 

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