A New Cuyama man will stand trial for a 2017 hit-and-run that left one man dead on the side of Highway 166.
After a preliminary hearing March 7, Judge John McGregor determined that enough evidence exists to hold 35-year-old Douglas Allen Lewis to answer in the death of Travis John Studer, 41. Lewis will reappear in Santa Maria Superior Court on March 21 for his arraignment.
Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies discovered Studer's body in the 5000 block of Highway 166 the night of July 25, 2017. Lewis was arrested on a warrant on June 1, 2018, more than 10 months after the incident. He was formally arraigned the same day and pleaded not guilty to all counts.
According to the arrest warrant, Lewis went to Studer's house the night of his death to fight over Ashley Landreth, a mutual acquaintance Lewis claims he was dating. The fight apparently escalated, resulting in Lewis allegedly running Studer over with his car. Tire marks were observed on Studer's body and a baseball bat was found near his hands.
Detectives later questioned Lewis at his home on Sisquoc Street, where, according to court documents, he said his father was the one who notified him of Studer's death. Lewis admitted that he was at Studer's home the night of his death, saying Studer "ripped open the door" of his truck with a bat before he fled the scene.
While he said he didn't know whether he hit Studer, Lewis later admitted that he "felt a little thud" on his truck tires as he fled. He claimed "it was a complete accident."
Detectives met with Landreth on Aug. 3, 2017, who said she never witnessed either of the men get violent. Lewis contacted Landreth multiple times the night Studer died, according to phone records, sending multiple text messages prior to and after the incident.
"Ashley, something really bad happened," one message sent at 11:11 p.m. from Lewis read. "You need to call, please now, please please."
The warrant points to Lewis' admission and evidence collected at the scene to support the theory that Lewis was the aggressor.