By MIKE MORRIS
Zachary Airola's lawyer may hire an investigator to check out events leading up to an accident that took the life of one of Airola's friends.
Richard Meyer, Airola's Modesto attorney, believes an Aug. 5 party at which minors were served beer ties into the crash that killed George Langston, 19.
But he declined to comment on the connection, saying it could compromise the investigation.
Meyer said he's considering hiring a Tuolumne County investigator to look into the Murphys birthday party that both Airola and Langston, also of Angels Camp, attended just before the accident on Highway 4 near Vallecito.
Airola, of Angels Camp, is accused of drunken driving causing a death and gross vehicular manslaughter. Investigators said his car left the highway and hit a tree, killing Langston.
Airola was 17 at the time, but has since turned 18.
Meyer has requested audio tapes of interviews conducted by a Calaveras County Sheriff's Department detective with partygoers. While Meyer already received written transcripts from those interviews, he said he wants the tapes because "It's always better to hear the exchange the way words are spoken."
The detective interviewed 10 people who were either at the gathering or had information about it. The sheriff's deputy who was called to the party, on the 200 block of Pennsylvania Gulch Road, saw 15-20 young adults there.
Stephanie Schuler, 29, who hosted the party, pleaded guilty last Friday to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of minors.
Airola and Langston attended the party, but there's no proof the pair drank there.
At a hearing Tuesday, a judge decided Airola will remain under home supervision, as he has been since his detention hearing in September.
"He's saddened, as we all are, about the loss of George Langston," Meyer said of Airola, who attended Tuesday's hearing with his father.