LANCASTER – A preliminary hearing was held Thursday for Jodi Lynn Biers, the 28-year-old woman accused of driving drunk and causing the crash that killed a Lancaster woman and critically injured the woman’s husband.
Angelica Goins-Jones, 42, died instantly when her vehicle collided with Biers’ pickup truck on Tuesday, March 13 at the intersection of 10th Street West and Ave L in Lancaster. Passenger, Patrick Jones, 43, was left clinging to life with a collapsed lung, broken ribs and perforated intestines.
In showing probable cause that Biers should stand trial for murder, prosecutor Susan Choi called three witnesses to testify at Thursday’s preliminary hearing – Deputy Brian Parks, Detective Richard Dailey, and Deputy Lee Schriever.
During their testimony, the officers alleged Biers drank at a local bar with five friends for at least four hours before the collision, appeared to be trying to leave the scene immediately after the collision, registered a blood alcohol level of .24 in a blood test at the hospital, and had received specific training on the dangers of drinking and driving through her role as a fire fighter with the US Forest Service.
Deputy Brian Parks said he was the first officer on the collision scene. He said, when he arrived around 12:52 a.m., a witness to the accident was near the couple’s vehicle talking on a cell phone and talking to Patrick, who was inside the vehicle on the passenger side. Angelica was unresponsive, Parks said.
He said the witness at the scene told him she was driving north on 10th street, about to turn in to the Carl’s Jr., when she saw the two vehicles collide at the intersection. Biers was traveling south on 10th street west and the couple was traveling east on West Avenue L. Parks said the witness told him she saw Biers trying to back up and leave the scene.
Parks testified he heard Biers revving up her truck and saw the truck bouncing as if Biers was trying to move the vehicle.
“I believe that maybe she was trying to leave the location,” Parks said.
Defense attorney Robert E. Haberer countered that the bouncing Parks saw might have been because Biers was trying to put her truck in park.
Parks said he questioned Biers briefly at the scene, and Biers told him she was coming from Schooners (a bar on 30th street West and Avenue L) and was headed home to Littlerock.
Deputy Lee Schriever testified that he conducted the DUI investigation at the scene.
“The first thing I noticed when I was speaking to her was the strong odor of an alcohol beverage,” Schriever said.
He said Biers told him she had been drinking at Schooners from 5 to 7 p.m., during which time she had drank an eight ounce glass of rum and coke. He said Biers believed the current time to be 7 p.m., when it was actually closer to 1:15 a.m. at the time. He said Biers also did not believe that she had been involved in a collision.
Schriever said Biers failed several field sobriety tests at the scene, then agreed to a blood test at the Antelope Valley Hospital, with lab results putting her blood alcohol level at .24.
Schriever also testified that he spoke to the Schooners bartender who was on duty on the night of the collision. He said he showed the bartender a photo of Biers and the bartender said Biers was in the bar with five friends – one female and four males – on the night of the collision. The bartender said Biers and her group got to Schooners around 8 p.m. and left together around 12 a.m., but not in the same vehicle, Schriever testified.
The bartender said he served two drinks to Biers, a Guinness and a Jameson, Schriever testified.
A third officer, Detective Richard Dailey, testified that Biers worked for the U.S. Forest Service and was part of a “hotshot” fire crew assigned to Valyermo.
“She was a lead foreman of this hotshot firecrew,” Dailey said. He said he confirmed with Captain Mark Mercado that Biers was with the U.S. Forest Service for about five years, and was required to take specific training on drinking and driving and be certified annually on the hazards of drunk driving.
Also revealed at the preliminary hearing was Biers’ history of vehicle code violations. Detective Dailey found a speeding citation dated Feb. 23 in Biers’ truck on the night of the collision, prosecutors said. Biers had also received at least half a dozen citations, the majority for speeding and one for failing to stop, Choi said.
Defense attorney Robert E. Haberer argued that the evidence presented was not enough to imply malice on Biers’ part. Harberer tried unsuccessfully to dismiss the murder charge citing insufficient evidence.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Christopher Estes ordered Biers to stand trial on all charges – murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence and causing injury, and driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.
Family members of Angelica Goines-Jones and Patrick Jones said they were satisfied with Thursday’s preliminary hearing.
“I’m very happy that the [murder] charge was upheld and that she’s going to be severely punished,” said sister Nicole Jones.
Jones said her brother Patrick was released from Antelope Valley Hospital on April 5, but is facing a long, hard road to recovery.
“He’s going to have to go back to the emergency room because he’s having severe abdominal pains,” Nicole Jones said.
Biers is due back in court for arraignment on May 3.
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