Teen charged in crash gets home arrest

September 09, 2003 11:00 pm

By MIKE MORRIS

Zachary Airola, the Angels Camp teen facing manslaughter charges in the Aug. 5 car-crash death of a friend, will be under home supervision pending trial in juvenile court.

Calaveras County Superior Court Judge John Martin made the ruling at a detention hearing yesterday afternoon.

Under the order, Airola, 18, is to remain at home unless he's at school or work. He can also leave his Angels Camp house if he's supervised by his parents or a guardian of at least age 25, Deputy District Attorney Dan McConnell said.

Judge Martin also read the charges against Airola — gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing death. The charges stem from an Aug. 5 crash that killed his friend George Langston, 19, of Angels Camp.

Airola, wearing a blue-collared shirt and black slacks, sat next to his Stanislaus County attorney Richard Meyers while his parents remained expressionless behind them.

Meyers moved to exclude the public from future hearings, saying media reports about the case have caused "substantial prejudice" toward Airola.

Airola was 17 the night of Aug. 5, when his truck crashed into an oak off Highway 4 near Vallecito, killing Langston. According to police reports, Airola's blood-alcohol level was .18 — more than twice the adult limit.

Airola and Langston had been at a Murphys party where, police say, a 29-year-old woman purchased a keg of beer for a 17-year-old's birthday celebration.

He has since turned 18, but his case will be tried in juvenile court because he was a minor when the accident occurred. But under law Airola's court appearances are open to the public, as an adult's would be, unless a judge rules otherwise.

Martin will rule on Meyer's motion to close future court appearances after an Oct. 3 hearing.

In addition to the charges, Martin also read Airola his rights. He told Airola if he knows anyone who would testify for his defense, to tell prosecutors. Potential witnesses would be issued court orders to testify.