Diane Anderson told investigators she did not see the accident in which three people died on J-59 In October 2016 because she was tired and playing solitaire on her iPad while her husband drove.
Her recorded interview with California Highway Patrol investigators was played in court Friday.
She said she was drifting to sleep on a pillow and perhaps crawled into the back seat to rest.
“I saw nothing,” Diane Anderson said. “I felt like I was going in circles.”
While the recording begins with polite conversation, the officers begin to pressure Diane Anderson with insinuations she may be withholding information related to her and her husband’s involvement. They mention news articles, which Diane Anderson admits to reading. When they ask if her husband ever mentioned the accident again, she said yes, but added she didn’t want to hear about it.
“I know what I read in the paper,” she said. “I just know a car passed… and I don’t know what else really.”
She acknowledges she sold the vehicle, but says it was because she didn’t like the specifications of the car.
Tuolumne County Superior Court Judge Kevin Siebert will rule on Monday on multiple pages and over 50 lines of transcription of the recording that the defense said should be inadmissible.
Outside the presence of the jury, Seibert played a short and partially unintelligible audio clip. Diane Anderson’s attorneys dispute the accuracy of the prosecution’s transcription a comment Anderson made about how much of Tuolumne County’s population is minority.
“That scared me,” Diane Anderson said of the CHP’s months-long search for the owners of an Acura MDX they believed caused the accident.
“I thought, OK, this is a redneck town…”
The prosecution played the first 20 minutes of the two-hour interview on Friday and will resume with the rest on Monday.
Salesman George Perez testified he rounded a blind, sloped curve in his white company pickup on southbound J-59, heard a thud and saw a pillar of dust rise as high as a telephone pole.
As the road straightened, he saw the collision that killed three people and injured three others in October 2016.
“It was pretty ugly,” he said.
Coming from the other direction, Twain Harte resident Joe Zertuche said as he watched the Acura MDX cross the double yellow lines to begin a pass. When he saw the Acura again, it was fishtailing, driving northbound in the southbound lane, and a car flying in the air.
“It terrified me,” he said.
California Highway Patrol Officer Jason Austin testified later that Danny Anderson admitted to crossing over the double yellow lines when Austin interviewed him in his office.
An objection was raised by the defense about the admissibility of the statement, with defense attorney Mark Coleman alleging it relieved the prosecution of its burden to prove Danny Anderson committed a felony.
Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg said the statement should be allowed because it did not relate to Diane Anderson’s knowledge of whether Danny Anderson committed a felony or not.
Siebert delayed a ruling on the statement until Monday.
Perez was listed on a California Highway Patrol dispatch log as the first emergency call about the collision.
In the audio recording, played for the seven woman, five man jury, Perez said, “It’s pretty mangled. One is down an embankment.”
Joseph Hoffman, who is not related to the crash victims, testified he also heard the crash and saw the bottom of the Lexus as it flipped into the air and tumbled down the embankment.
He ran to Tina Hoffman’s body in the road and took her pulse, but knew immediately she was dead. From there, he assisted Dorothy Eisemann out of the driver’s side of her vehicle and checked the vitals of Rheinholt Eismann, who was unconscious in the passenger seat.
Much of the cross-examination of the prosecution’s case has focused on how long Danny and Diane were at the crash site and what they did there.
The prosecution must prove Danny Anderson’s responsibility for manslaughter at Diane Anderson’s trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was an accessory after the fact.
Joseph Hoffman said he told Danny Anderson the woman in the street was dead, and Shaunna Hoffman, Joseph’s wife, noted Danny then went to the woman and appeared to administer aid.
Keri Pickett, a CHP public safety dispatch supervisor in Merced where the CHP - Sonora area calls are dispatched out of, testified the Perez call came in at 4:26 p.m. The collision was said to have occurred at about 4:20 p.m.
A minute later, another 911 recording was relayed from an apparent witness to a woman at the Hacienda, an office building associated with Lake Don Pedro.
The woman said two vehicles were involved in an accident and one woman was lying in the road.
“It happened right in front of the lady who’s reporting it,” the caller said.
A call also came in from Christina Hodge at 4:41 p.m. She said a pedestrian female juvenile may have been hit in the street and involved in the accident, Pickett said.
Brian Ogilvie, a flight paramedic formerly employed with a ground ambulance company, testified his crew was the first ambulance on scene.
He said he pronounced Trista Hoffman dead at the scene.
Jenny Nieves, an EMT with Tuolumne County ambulance, testified she saw first responders attending to the victims when she arrived after Ogilvie.
CHP Officer Michael McDaniel testified that he retrieved video surveillance footage from the Houseboat Mini Mart shown during the trial, which shows a procession of northbound vehicles before the accident.
He said he was instructed to find the make and model of the last vehicle in the procession, which was determined to be a 2014-2016 Acura MDX.
He said other CHP officers were involved in attempting to identify a minivan whose make and model was never determined.
Diane Anderson was a passenger in her husband Danny’s white Acura MDX. Authorities say he crossed the double yellow lines on northbound J-59 to pass vehicles and caused a head-on collision between a white Lexus RX300 driven by 16-year-old Trista Hoffman and a white Toyota Camry driven by Dorothy Eisemann. Trista and her mother Tina Hoffman died in the accident as did Eisemann’s husband. Trista’s brother Dillon and her best friend Annie Johnson were injured.
Diane Anderson is on trial for accessory after the fact to vehicular manslaughter, failure to perform a duty after an accident (also known as hit and run) and misdemeanors concealing evidence and obstructing an investigation. Danny Anderson was sentenced to five years and four months in state prison last year after being convicted of triple manslaughter.