Court hearing set for Angels teen



Facing charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing death, Zachary Airola is scheduled to appear at a detention hearing tomorrow.

The hearing a juvenile court proceeding similar to an arraignment will be held at 1:30 p.m. in Department 1 of the Calaveras County Superior Court in San Andreas.

Airola was 17 the night of Aug. 5, when his truck crashed into a tree off Highway 4 near Vallecito, killing his friend George Langston, 19, of Angels Camp. According to police reports, Airola's blood-alcohol level was .18 more than twice the legal adult limit.

The Angels Camp resident has since turned 18, but his case will be tried in juvenile court because he was a minor when the accident occurred.

By law, however, tomorrow's hearing will be open to the public.

Assistant Chief Probation Officer Rich Manders said a deputy district attorney and probation department officials will be at the hearing.

The charges, filed last month by the Calaveras County District Attorney's Office, will be read, and Airola will be appointed an attorney unless he chooses to use his own.

It is likely the date for a jurisdictional hearing will be set tomorrow. The hearing is the equivalent of a court trial, at which a verdict will be handed down by a judge.

If Airola is found not guilty, the court proceedings are over and Airola will be free. If he's found guilty, the county probation department will make recommendations on Airola's fate.

The maximum punishment is California Youth Authority confinement until he's 21.

The minimum sentence, said Manders, is a lesser term in Placer County's juvenile hall. He'd go there because Calaveras County doesn't have a juvenile hall.

Though the accident case is moving forward, another case involving Airola has stalled.

He and Langston were at a Murphys birthday party shortly before the wreck, where, police say, a 29-year-old woman purchased a keg of beer for a 17-year-old's birthday.

The Union Democrat
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