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A Lompoc man charged with felony DUI and murder in connection to a Sept. 21 crash that killed an Oxnard man on Highway 1 pleaded not guilty Friday, when his bail also was reduced to $200,000. 

On Wednesday, Bryan Paul Charette, 35, was charged by the California Office of the Attorney General on the following counts: murder, DUI vehicular manslaughter, misdemeanor reckless driving, speeding at least 30 mph over the maximum speed limit and DUI with over .08 percent blood alcohol content, causing great bodily injury to Alfredo Garcia Martinez. 

On Friday at the Lompoc Superior Court, a judge reduced his $2 million bail to $200,000 after looking at Charette's ties to the community and potential public safety risk. 

If Charette posts bail, the judge ordered the following conditions must be met: He must not drink alcohol, must wear an ankle monitor and must be monitored around the clock by the pretrial services division of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office, according to his attorney Adam Pearlman. 

Charette will return to court Nov. 15 to set a preliminary hearing date. 

According to witness statements obtained by the California Highway Patrol, Charette was driving northbound in his Honda sedan on Highway 1, south of Jalama, at high speeds while making unsafe passing movements over the double yellow line. Just before 7:30 p.m., Charette crashed into Martinez, who was driving a Nissan pickup truck. Martinez died at the scene.

Charette sustained major injuries and was subsequently flown to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Records indicate that Charette has a prior felony DUI conviction in Santa Barbara in May 2007. According to the Watson murder rule, if an individual was convicted of a DUI then caused the death of another person in a DUI-related incident, that individual can be charged with murder and face a minimum of 15 years to life in prison. 

The Santa Barbara County district attorney is not prosecuting Charette, despite the event occurring in the local jurisdiction, due to a conflict. While not specifying the nature of the conflict, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola said conflicts sometimes arise in a case when there are familial relationships between the suspect or victim and staff in the District Attorney's Office.

Deputy Attorney General Seth McCutcheon has been assigned to the case.

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Gina Kim covers crime and courts for Santa Maria Times. Follow her on Twitter @gina_k210


Courts/Public Safety Reporter