Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

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Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges
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Photo: Santa Barbara County Fire Department

By edhat staff

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Lieutenant has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a DUI collision on Highway 154 in September.

Javier Jonathan Antunez, 44, appeared in Santa Maria Superior Court on Wednesday on crutches due to his injuries from the collision. 

On the evening of September 14, three vehicles collided near the entrance of Lake Cachuma. Antunez was driving a BMW with another occupant when it drifted into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a Toyota Tacoma carrying four occupants. A Jeep with one occupant following behind subsequently collided with both vehicles. 

There were a total of seven patients with one patient flown to Santa Barbara Hospital via a CalStar helicopter with critical injuries. 

Two days after the collision, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office announced Antunez, an off-duty Custody lieutenant assigned to the Main Jail, was involved in the collision and was placed under arrest for driving a vehicle under the influence.

Antunez was formally charged with two felony DUI charges, driving under the influence and causing injury, and driving under the influence with greater than a .08% blood alcohol content and causing injury, as well as one habitual offender enhancement. 

One victim of the crash has been identified as Judith Hall, a Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office investigator. Hall was airlifted from the scene with major injuries.

The California Attorney General's Office will try the case as the District Attorney's Office recused themselves due to a possible conflict of interest. 

Antunez has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 1999.  He has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, according to the Sheriff's Department.

A preliminary hearing is set for January 6, 2020. Antunez is out of custody on $150,000 bail.

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 September 14, 2019: Sheriff's Lieutenant Arrested for DUI in Highway 154 Collision

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a-1575763784 Nov 15, 2019 01:17 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

Where's the MUG SHOT? What a total crock on the part of the SBSO. Come on you people & do the right thing because it sure appears you are covering for one of your own here. If that was a normal, non-LEO, the mug would have been posted before the fingerprint ink was even dry! Maybe it will take the County Supes to step in & tell Sheriff Brown to get snapping on this!

Eggs Ackley Nov 15, 2019 08:10 AM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

What is SO employee policy on 502's? Seriously how is this guy still on taxpayers dime after this incident annnnd he's a habitual offender. Heads should roll from the top down. How could the SO employ such a gem? Does he have a carry permit? Hope not cause the judgement he exercises is clearly impaired. Your tax dollars at work. The d(s)upes should fire this guy and reprimand/sanction everyone above him right up the line. This is an egregious lapse of the public trust.

jqb Nov 15, 2019 01:22 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

7:07 -- See the 18th and 21st Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and why the former led to the latter. Hint: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution#Bootlegging_and_organized_crime

a-1575763784 Nov 14, 2019 05:39 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

If your ELECTED DA has the gall to issue a press release about the ingredients in a Cheese Pizza at Lazy Acres and not the mugshot of this guy or the estrogen to take on the case, I'd say it's time for a change.

a-1575763784 Nov 14, 2019 02:19 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

Wow. Utterly shameless. Not Guilty? Very curious to see what it is that excuses him being drunk, getting behind the wheel (on San Marcos Pass, no less) and injuring so many people. "Justice system or no," I agree with MATTYBOY 100%.

a-1575763784 Nov 14, 2019 02:11 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

Not guilty huh? Where is the moral compass? Step up and own what you did, especially being in LE. You decided to drink and get behind the wheel, knowing that it is the wrong and illegal choice....injuring people in the process. Yet you have the gall to plead not guilty? What a great example to set for your kids, etc... Lovely.

a-1575763784 Nov 14, 2019 01:44 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

I agree it's difficult to deal with the "innocent until proven guilty" concept when someone is so obviously guilty (and reaps benefits of the presumption of innocence in the meantime), but it's an invaluable part of our justice system. We can't have our cake and eat it too, we have to let the system work - yes, that unfortunately means extending paid admin leave to this despicable man in the meantime.

Flicka Nov 14, 2019 01:29 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

If a man was driving drunk, not "allegedly" drunk but with a blood alcohol high enough to be really "drunk", why can't he just be canned for injuring innocent people. Doesn't sound like this is an "innocent until proven guilty" case. So he pleads "not guilty" and maybe he or his lawyer can explain that one. Time was many, many years ago when a cop would just tell the drunk to drive straight home. Bartenders or party hosts would insist, "Have one for the road." The excuse for drunks causing accidents were written up as, "Fell asleep at the wheel." There is so much education about drunk driving and the consequences now that there is no excuse for anyone to get behind the wheel after drinking.

oceandrew Nov 14, 2019 07:21 PM
Custody Deputy Pleads Not Guilty in DUI Collision Charges

And if you were a public employee in a similar position you'd be afforded the same leeway until proven guilty. So if it's good enough for you it's good enough for anyone else too. Of course, if you're a vigilante and just want public outrage to lynch the bastard you're entitled to that opinion... just don't take the law into your own hands or you'd be no better than he is.

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