TS - Defendants in 299 wreck plead not guilty

Defendants in 299 wreck plead not guilty
Two men accused of killing a 9-year-old girl in an October crash pleaded not guilty to felony charges at their arraignment in Humboldt County Superior Court Friday.

Jason Whitmill, 31, stands accused of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence causing injury and engaging in a speed challenge.

Anthony Flores, 19, is charged with vehicular manslaughter, engaging in a speed challenge and participating in a hit-and-run injury.

Both defendants waived their right to a speedy trial, and a tentative date for their trial-setting hearing was scheduled for June 26.

The Friday arraignment allowed the defendants to issue a plea for the charges that were upheld by Judge Bruce Watson at the end of their preliminary hearing two weeks earlier.

At Friday's hearing, Whitmill's attorney Glenn Brown told Watson he planned to file a motion challenging evidence presented during the men's preliminary hearing; however, Brown did not say what aspect of the hearing that motion will challenge.

The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office has alleged Flores was racing Whitmill at more than 100 mph on State Route 299 near Guintoli Lane on Oct. 6, 2008, when Whitmill attempted to pass Flores' vehicle on the right side and collided with a Chevrolet Tahoe headed the same direction.

The impact sent Whitmill's Sunfire and the Tahoe spinning off the road. The Tahoe crashed through a road sign and a power pole before coming to rest against a fence. The force of the impact killed Nicole Quigley, a 9-year-old passenger, and seriously injured her mother, Debra Quigley.

Whitmill was uninjured in the collision, and his alleged passenger, Cheri Marcelli, suffered serious injury to her neck and hand.
Blood evidence, which was ordered to be drawn from Whitmill by a California Highway Patrol sergeant after Whitmill declined to give a sample, showed his blood alcohol level was at around .14 percent at the time of the collision.

Although Whitmill has maintained it was Marcelli who was driving, California Highway Patrol investigators testified Marcelli's injuries were consistent with those sustained by a person sitting in the passenger's seat.

Flores, who was allegedly driving a silver Mustang when the wreck occurred, is accused of leaving the scene of the collision.

His vehicle was discovered by authorities days later, spray-painted black and discarded at an Arcata fast food restaurant.
Following Friday's hearing, the two defendants were returned to the Humboldt County jail.

Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or sgarmire@times-standard.com.
Sean Garmire/The Times-Standard
Posted: 03/28/2009 01:15:20 AM PDT
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Case surrounding fatal crash on Highway 299 delayed 09/15/2009
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Legal maneuvers slow case of men charged in 9-year-old's death 09/01/2009
Whitmill and Flores trial date delayed another month 08/04/2009
Evidence, charges unchanged against Whitmill 07/17/2009
Evidence for second degree murder charge? 06/19/2009
Thinking of the Quigleys 05/29/2009
Remember Nicole 05/08/2009
Looking forward: Quigley family watches and waits as case continues 05/17/2009
Defendants in 299 wreck plead not guilty 03/28/2009
Judge holds Whitmill, Flores to answer for 299 wreck 03/14/2009
Wife refuses to testify against husband at preliminary hearing 03/13/2009
Investigator testifies suspect in fatal crash changed story 03/12/2009
Officer testifies about 299 crash at prelim 03/11/2009
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Hug your children 12/03/2008
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Whitmill-Flores hearing continued 11/06/2008
Street race case waiting on CHP reports 10/23/2008
Authorities seek Mustang passenger for questioning 10/17/2008
Court document: Flores tried to 'subvert' investigation 10/16/08
Whitmill faces murder charge for alleged role in crash 10/15/2008
Authorities arrest driver of Mustang 10/10/2008
New driver named in fatal collision 10/09/2008
Search continues for other driver in fatal crash 10/08/2008
◼ ER Parolee named as driver in fatal collision
◼ TS New driver identified in fatal crash
◼ TS New driver named in fatal collision
TS Update: ☛ TS Police still looking for driver
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Note: there were other articles in the Eureka reporter, but none are available online anymore.