Vehicular manslaughter trial postponed

Rory Tomasello

The jury trial for Sandra Arlia of Morgan Hill, who is accused
of vehicular manslaughter, will be postponed until next year.
The jury trial for Sandra Arlia of Morgan Hill, who is accused of vehicular manslaughter, will be postponed until next year.

Arlia, 66, faces the misdemeanor charge in relation to a traffic accident in which the Cadillac sport-utility vehicle she was driving struck cyclist Rory Tomasello, 22, in a mid-block crosswalk on West Edmundson Avenue.

The accident happened Oct. 23, 2009, and Tomasello, also a Morgan Hill resident, died Nov. 2, 2009 as a result of injuries suffered in the accident. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.

Arlia was charged by prosecutors within days of Tomasello’s death.

A jury trial for Arlia, who faces a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, was scheduled to begin Nov. 1, but was recently postponed until Jan. 10, 2011 at South County Courthouse, according to Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office spokeswoman Amy Cornell.

Arlia pleaded not guilty to the charge in January.

The accident also spun a web of lawsuits, with Arlia, Tomasello’s parents, the city of Morgan Hill and the Santa Clara Valley Water District involved.

Tom and Kathee Tomasello in February filed a wrongful death complaint against Arlia, who responded with complaints against the city and water district. She claimed the two parties were partially responsible for the accident because the city owns the road and crosswalk, and the water district owns the bike path on which Tomasello was riding and is connected by the crosswalk in which he was hit.

The city replied by filing a complaint against Arlia asking the court to release the city from liability.

The Tomasellos have also filed claims against the city and water district, and both public agencies have denied all responsibility for the accident.

Litigation of the complaints has proceeded slowly through the courts, and will likely not go to trial until sometime next year.

The investigation of the accident by Morgan Hill police found that Arlia was primarily responsible, while Tomasello illegally crossed the crosswalk.

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