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Grand jury indictment added to murder charge in Orange County DUI case

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has obtained a grand jury indictment against a 20-year-old woman accused of killing another young woman while driving drunk.

According to reports, in the early morning of February 1st, Brittney Schuetz was driving between 90 and 100 mph on Imperial Highway when she failed to stop at a red light and collided with April Whang’s Acura Integra. According to reports, La Habra police found Schuetz sitting in the driver’s seat showing signs of intoxication, including giving off a strong odor of alcohol, having bloodshot eyes and watery eyes. Schuetz is accused of driving with a blood-alcohol content of 0.24 percent, three times the legal limit, while on probation from a 2007 driving-under-the-influence conviction.

Following the February 1st crash, the District Attorney’s Office charged the Santa Ana woman by felony complaint with one count of Murder. Yesterday’s grand jury indictment will allow prosecutors the opportunity to bring the case to trial more quickly by skipping a preliminary hearing. Preliminary hearings are usually after the arraignment, and is a preliminary determination where the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to force the defendant to stand trial. Defendant’s are not entitled to a preliminary hearing if the grand jury passes down an indictment.

At the preliminary hearing, the judge makes determination whether the state has a case using the probable cause standard–which is much lower than the state’s burden at trial which is to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Preliminary hearings are important to a defense for many reasons. For one, it gives the defense an opportunity to cross examine the state’s witnesses on the record which could be a great tool to use against them at trial. Second, if probable cause is not found, a judge can release the defendant who is held with no bond.


Comments about this post can be directed to Santa Ana Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at (714) 834-1400.