photo courtesy of 10News
An 18-year-old who allegedly was on drugs when he got into a head-on freeway crash that killed a man in Rancho Penasquitos must stand trial on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Timothy Theodore Barnette -- held on $100,000 bail -- faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of charges stemming from the May 16 crash that killed 22-year-old Nick Hart.
Ann Almryde testified that she and her husband were traveling west on Ted Williams Parkway near Pomerado Road around 9:30 a.m. when she noticed a Land Rover parked with two wheels up on the sidewalk.
"I just figured he (the driver) was making a phone call," the witness said.
Moments later, the same Land Rover sped past the couple, changing lanes and driving erratically, prompting Almryde to call 911.
"I felt that he was going to cause an accident, maybe ours personally," said Almyrde, who described the driving before the deadly crash as "awful."
Another witness, Rex Dolendo, said he was stopped at a red light on the same road -- which becomes state Route 56 near the Interstate 15 interchange -- when the Land Rover's driver cut him off and narrowly missed hitting his car.
Dolendo -- who also called 911 -- described the actions of the Land Rover's driver as an "accident waiting to happen."
Dolendo said he exited the freeway at Black Mountain Road, as did the other driver, but the Land Rover got back on the freeway. He said he was worried for the safety of his young daughter.
Laura Atwell testified that she was cut off and forced off the road by the Land Rover as she got onto westbound state Route 56 at Camino Del Sur. Atwell said the Land Rover's driver was wearing a hoodie.
"I was worried that something was going to happen," Atwell said.
David Brenner said he tried to pass the Land Rover and got a good look at the driver, who he identified as Barnette. The witness said Barnette smiled at him, swerved to the left, crossed a center median and crashed on the other side of the freeway.
Brenner said he saw smoke, dirt and an explosion, but didn't see Barnette hit another car.
"It was quite obvious he was a reckless driver," Brenner said.
Tracy Fitzpatrick testified that she was a passenger in a car traveling westbound on the freeway near Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard when she noticed an SUV coming toward them.
The oncoming car did a "beeline" for the car ahead of hers and hit the victim's Scion, knocking both cars off the road, Fitzpatrick testified.
Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai said there were no skid marks when Barnette hit Hart's vehicle.
Hart, a 2009 graduate of Poway High School, was trapped in his car and was pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma injuries.
Barnette's attorney questioned if the witnesses ever saw the driver's face. The first three witnesses said they did not, but a later witness confirmed Barnette was the driver on that deadly day.
Barnette was emotional in court, holding his head down for most of the hearing and rocking back and forth in his chair. At times, he grabbed a tissue -- visibly shaken by the charges he faced.
California Highway Patrol Officer Brad Clinkscales testified that after the crash, at a hospital, Barnette told him that he had left Abraxas High School in Poway to get something to eat. He said Barnette said that he had taken two Xanax pills and smoked marijuana two days before the accident, and had inhaled computer keyboard cleaner two months earlier.
Officers found two cans of the cleaner in the defendant's car and one was empty, Clinkscales testified.
Authorities found marijuana, Xanax and inhalants in Barnette's blood, according to a court stipulation.
"What a tragedy," Judge John Einhorn said as he ordered Barnette to stand trial Nov. 14.
Barnette's father told 10News off camera that his son is depressed and the 18-year-old takes full responsibility for what happened.
Hart's family and friends were in court for the preliminary hearing, but they declined to speak to reporters.