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Jurors will likely see photos of victim killed in fatal 2016 accident 

Jurors selected to hear a DUI manslaughter case in SLO County Superior Court this week will likely be shown photos of the victim before and after the deadly 2016 accident.

Judge Craig Van Rooyen ruled that at least two photos of the body of 56-year-old Denise Lyn Fox, who was killed in a fatal collision near Santa Margarita two years ago, could be shown to the jurors during the trial of Jessica Lea Allred. Allred, 25, is accused of killing Fox while driving drunk and is charged with multiple felonies including vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence.

click to enlarge FATAL COLLISION A SLO County Judge ruled that jurors picked for the trial of Jessica Lea Allred could see some photos of the 56-year-old woman she allegedly killed while driving drunk in a 2016 crash near Santa Margarita. - FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA COURTS DEPARTMENT
  • File Photo Courtesy Of The California Courts Department
  • FATAL COLLISION A SLO County Judge ruled that jurors picked for the trial of Jessica Lea Allred could see some photos of the 56-year-old woman she allegedly killed while driving drunk in a 2016 crash near Santa Margarita.

During a pre-trial hearing June 26, Deputy District Attorney Chase Martin asked Van Rooyen to allow him to show three photos of Fox taken after the crash, both before and after she was pulled out of her vehicle.

"These three photos are instructive of the severity of the collision itself," Martin said.

Allred was involved in a head-on collision with Fox east of Santa Margarita on Highway 58 on the evening of April 30, 2016. During the hearing, Martin indicated he would argue that Allred was intoxicated and distracted when she crossed a solid double yellow line "at the most dangerous part of the road," hitting Fox's vehicle. Allred pleaded not guilty to the charges against her in October 2017.

Allred's defense attorney, Patrick Fisher, argued that the graphic photos would unfairly bias the jury against his client, and asked that Van Rooyen not allow them into evidence, instead allowing jurors to see photos of the crash scene without Fox.

"I think that would be sufficient to accomplish what [Martin] hopes to accomplish ... without showing bodies," Fisher said.

Van Rooyen allowed two of the three photos to be shown to jurors during the trial as long as Martin could lay the proper foundation to introduce them as evidence. Van Rooyen excluded one photo, a close-up of Fox's, face calling it "particularly disturbing and gruesome."

"There's less of a chance of prejudice resulting from [the other two photos]," he said.

Martin also asked to show a photo of Fox before the accident during his closing arguments. While Fisher was against showing one particular photograph of Fox holding one of her grandchildren, he and Martin agreed to confer and choose a picture of a living Fox that both sides could agree on.

Jury selection for Allred's trial began June 26, with opening arguments slated for June 27. The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

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