A Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge ordered separate trials for a Sonora-area doctor, who is accused of causing a triple-fatal La Grange Road collision in October 2016, and his wife, who is accused as an accessory.

The judge said Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg had determined that a statement made by the husband in December 2016 would be used as evidence in his trial.

Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Donald Segerstrom ruled on April 11 that the District Attorney’s Office would be able to make a decision to exclude the entire statement and maintain the joint trial, or have separate trials where the statement would still be admissible as evidence against Dr. Danny Anderson.

The statement, which not mention Danny Anderson’s wife Diane Anderson, would infringe on her right to a fair trial, the judge said.

The prosecution was “most definitely going to use his statement” in an upcoming trial for Danny Anderson scheduled for June 2. Segerstrom did not schedule Diane Anderson’s trial date, and noted that since she was charged as an accessory, it made sense for “judicial economy” to schedule her trial following her husband.

On Sept. 29, 2017, Sonora-area California Highway Patrol officer Jason Austin testified during the Anderson’s joint preliminary hearing that Danny Anderson admitted to crossing the double-yellow lines on La Grange Road to pass two vehicles in front of him and saw the accident occur behind him.

On May 22 at 2 p.m. in Department 1 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court, the court will hear a prosecution motion for the use of a jury questionnaire, as well as any pending motions.

During the hearing Wednesday, Danny and Diane Anderson sat near their respective attorneys and listened intently to the determination.

Danny Anderson wrote down notes, and, near the end of the hearing, Diane Anderson rested her chin in the palm of her hand.

Prior to the determination on the severance of the trials, Segerstrom, Deputy Attorney General William McMahon and California Highway Patrol Lt. Commander Shane Ferreira privately reviewed personnel files related to the first responding CHP officer to the accident scene on Oct. 21, 2016, Officer Joelle McChesney.

In 2008, McChesney pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor accessing a computer to alter, destroy or use data for a criminal purpose, following an arrest in Yolo County while she was stationed at the CHP Academy in West Sacramento. McChesney was later employed by the Woodland-area CHP office prior to being hired by the Sonora-area office.

Segerstrom reviewed the documents for about an hour and a half. Segerstrom said there was not material included in the local CHP - Sonora personnel file related to the incident.

“Any material at the state level is duplicative of material given by the prosecution to the defense,” he added, indicating that Krieg had provided police reports of McChesney’s arrest to the defense.

In accordance with the Pitchess motion filed by the defense, Segerstrom ordered that the addresses of seven CHP officers be provided to the defense so that they may be contacted or subpoenaed.

“The material that was provided by Mrs. Krieg to the defense redacted the addresses,” he said.

Segerstrom said that the purpose of providing the address was that the defense could pursue evidence that may question McChesney’s credibility as a witness.

Segerstrom also ordered that the addresses of four CHP employees who were not officers be provided, as well as a Rockland Police Department officer, and a civilian woman.

“The 2008 incident may very well be relevant to her credibility,” he said.

Segerstrom also admonished the CHP by noting that they may have been in violation of the “Brady rule” by purging records after five years.

McMahon previously noted that the CHP has a five-year retention rule regarding personnel files, and after five years the files are purged from internal affairs and master records.

A Brady motion provides for any evidence concerning a witness that may impeach the credibility of a government witness or exculpate the accused.

A Pitchess motion, to access the personnel records of an investigating officer, has a statute of limitations, but a Brady motion does not, he said.

“Any investigating agency has an obligation to voluntarily produce Brady material,” he said.

Segerstrom also ordered that the transcript of the private discussion be sealed.

On Oct. 21, 2016, a head on collision between a 2009 Toyota Camry and a 2002 Lexus RX300 on J-59 near Bonds Flat Road resulted in the death of Tina Hoffman, 51, Trista Hoffman, 16, and Reinholt Eismann, 72. Dillon Hoffman, 17, sustained two broken legs. Annie Johnson, 16, sustained brain hemorrhages. Dorothy Eismann, 66, sustained minor injuries.

The prosecution has alleged that Danny Anderson, driving in an Acura MDX, crossed the double yellow lines and caused the accident.
Danny Anderson has been charged on suspicion of three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence with enhancement charges of fleeing the scene, one count of hit and run resulting in death or serious injury of six people, one count of reckless driving causing specific injury or death for the three fatalities, and misdemeanors destroying or concealing evidence and obstructing a police investigation.
Diane Anderson faces one count of felony hit and run resulting in death or serious injury of the six involved parties, accessory after the fact to the vehicular manslaughter charge, and misdemeanor charges of destroying or concealing evidence and obstructing an investigation.
Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.