Vehicular manslaughter trial delayed

 

The jury trial scheduled to begin this week for Rita Campos, 61
of Morgan Hill, was postponed until May 17.
The jury trial scheduled to begin this week for Rita Campos, 61 of Morgan Hill, was postponed until May 17.

Campos was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter after the Honda Civic she was driving collided with cyclist Bruce Finch, 58 of Gilroy – killing him almost instantly.

The trial that was scheduled to start Monday was continued due to a scheduling conflict for Campos’ attorney, according to Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Amy Cornell.

The accident occurred Oct. 5, 2008, at the intersection of Uvas and Little Uvas roads. Campos pleaded not guilty to the charge in July 2009.

She was pulling forward to make a left turn onto Little Uvas Road at a stop sign, when Finch struck the front of her vehicle. She said she did not see the cyclist as she inched into the road so she could see around some yard signs and a utility pole partially blocking her view.

Finch suffered a broken neck and severed spinal cord after the impact with Campos’ car. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The California Highway Patrol conducted a lengthy investigation that was concluded in January 2009, and recommended the charge of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence, which the D.A.’s office filed.

Campos has said that Finch’s surviving wife and daughter settled a civil wrongful death lawsuit against her for the maximum amount allowed by her auto insurance, or about $15,000.

The lawsuit also seeks unspecified damages from Alain Pinel Realtors, who owned a yard sign in the intersection, and PG&E, which owned a utility pole. The complaint alleges that these items obstructed Campos’ view of oncoming traffic, contributing to the accident.

If found guilty in the jury trial that starts May 17, Campos could face up to one year in Santa Clara County Jail.

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