The Tuolumne County Superior Court is awaiting a determination from the Judicial Council of California on the venue for the trial of Diane Anderson, a Sonora nurse accused as an accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter.
Judge Kevin M. Seibert said Monday afternoon he had been in “back and forth” contact with the administrative office of the court and requested an update on their timeline on Friday, but did not receive a response before the hearing.
Seibert granted the change of venue motion on July 9 because of widespread knowledge in the county that Diane Anderson’s husband, Danny Anderson, was found guilty of three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter last year.
Danny Anderson was found to be responsible for a triple fatal collision in La Grange in October 2016 because he illegally passed over the double yellow lines to pass vehicles just before the accident.
Diane Anderson, who was sitting in the passenger seat at the time of the accident, is charged with one count of felony hit-and-run resulting in death or serious injury of six involved parties in the accident, an accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter, and misdemeanor charges of destroying or concealing evidence and obstructing an investigation.
She has pleaded not guilty.
Diane Anderson was not present in court on Monday. Her attorneys, Mark Coleman and Roger Nuttall, appeared over a court phone system.
Nuttall said his office had uncertainty over the efficacy of Diane Anderson’s Aug. 14 trial date because none of the witnesses his office had subpoenaed knew where they were going to appear.
Nutall asked, “Would the court consider vacating the trial date in light of that?”
“No,” Seibert responded.
Seibert added that if a larger jurisdiction was selected for the trial, they may have jurors scheduled to come in every week and the trial may not be postponed.
“I don’t know whether they’re going to accommodate or not, but there’s no reason to think that they won’t at his point,” Seibert said.
Seibert scheduled another review hearing for July 29 at 1:30 p.m.
At Diane Anderson’s previous hearing on July 9, Seibert said he made the decision to allow the change of venue motion because prosecutors would be required to prove Danny Anderson was guilty of triple manslaughter to convict her as an accessory. Danny Anderson’s conviction was known throughout the county and much of the jury pool would not be able to give Diane Anderson a fair trial due to that fact.
A defense expert witness said 73.4 percent of people polled who knew about the case were aware of Danny Anderson’s conviction. The defense also alleged that media coverage — mostly from The Union Democrat — contained prejudicial and inflammatory information.
The collision resulted in the death of Tina Hoffman, 51, and her daughter, Trista Hoffman, 16, in the Lexus, and Reinholt Eismann, 72, in the Camry. Lexus passengers Dillon Hoffman, 17, sustained two broken legs, and Annie Johnson, 16, sustained brain hemorrhages. Camry driver Dorothy Eismann, 66, sustained minor injuries.
Danny Anderson was sentenced to five years and four months on the three counts of vehicular manslaughter, in addition to hit-and-run and obstructing an investigation. He is in the custody of the California Institution for Men in Chino.
Danny Anderson has appealed his case in the California Court Fifth Appellate District. His opening brief in the appeal is due to the court on Aug. 27.