The murder trial of an East Palo Alto driver whose friend died in a car accident after she allegedly evaded police began with opening statements on Wednesday, June 11, in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Leylani Simmons, 28, is charged with murder and vehicular manslaughter for the June 17, 2011, death of her friend, Lupe Veamatahau, 22. East Palo Alto officers saw a vehicle driving recklessly at Pulgas Avenue and Camellia Drive at 10:30 p.m. that night and pursued the car.
Simmons allegedly drove at speeds between 60 and 80 miles per hour during a 1.5-mile chase and ran at least six stop signs, twice drove on the wrong side of the road and ultimately lost control of her car, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. Her vehicle overturned as she attempted to turn south from Pulgas Avenue onto East Bayshore Road, pinning Veamatahau between the car and the asphalt. Veamatahau he died at the scene.
Simmons was ejected from the vehicle and hospitalized with serious, non-life-threatening injuries. She is charged with: murder, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with gross negligence, driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in great bodily injury or death, a great bodily injury allegation and driving on a suspended license with a prior DUI conviction. She was also booked on charges and a no-bail warrant from Santa Clara County for reckless driving, defrauding an innkeeper and a warrant for driving with a suspended license.
On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Clifford Cretan dismissed two lesser charges related to driving under the influence causing great bodily injury at the prosecution's request because the are included offenses within the murder charge.
Nine prosecution witnesses testified on Wednesday. The trial resumes on Friday morning with further prosecution evidence. Simmons remains in custody without bail.