Woman accused of killing Los Banos firefighter in DUI crash pleads guilty to manslaughter

Faces four years in prison, sentencing set for March 16

02/06/2012 12:00 PM

02/07/2012 2:18 AM

LOS BANOS -- A Santa Nella woman accused of killing a firefighter in a drunk-driving accident last summer changed her plea to guilty Friday.

Amie Chick, 25, pleaded guilty in a Los Banos courtroom to vehicular manslaughter. She will be sentenced March 16 and could receive a maximum of four years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Travis Colby said the punishment Chick is facing fits what she caused to occur.

"I think it's appropriate given the disposition of the facts of the case," Colby said.

Chick was involved in the June 9 accident that killed Cal Fire firefighter Andrew Maloney.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Maloney, 29, was driving his 2011 Suzuki motorcycle south on Highway 165 near Pioneer Road just after 9 p.m. when Chick, driving north in a 1995 Jeep, made a left turn in front of him. Maloney couldn't avoid the Jeep and later died of his injuries at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

Court documents state Chick had alcohol and marijuana in her system on the night of the collision. Her blood alcohol content was 0.07 percent an hour after the crash. The legal limit is 0.08 percent. The prosecution believes that Chick was above the legal limit at the time of the crash.

Court records further indicate Chick may have been on a cell phone at or near the time of the crash.

Chick was originally charged with one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of felony DUI causing great bodily injury. If she had gone to trial and was convicted on those counts she would have faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Colby said accepting Chick's guilty plea to vehicular manslaughter had nothing to do with potential problems in the case.

"I think the evidence was strong and would have resulted in a guilty verdict," Colby said. "Everything in the case can eventually be an issue, as in any case. I believe that we could have obtained a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt had she taken it to trial."

Donald Bartell, Chick's lawyer, declined to speak about why his client didn't opt for a trial. He said he wants to save all comments until after sentencing is complete.

Los Banos Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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