News

Menlo Park driver testifies in double-fatality DUI trial

 

Marjorie Reitzell took the stand on Wednesday (May 13) to testify in her defense, telling the court that she is capable of driving safely while intoxicated. The 55-year-old Menlo Park woman was allegedly drunk when the car she was driving struck and killed a couple walking their dog along Chilco Street.

The Oct. 24, 2013, crash killed Balbir Singh, 50, and Kamal Kaur Singh, 45. The Menlo Park couple left behind three teenage children.

Referring to the police and prosecution as "enemies," Ms. Reitzell testified that she had drunk only three miniature bottles of brandy the day of the crash, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. The prosecution had presented the results of a test that reportedly showed her blood alcohol level had been 0.23 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

The 1998 Honda Accord driven by Ms. Reitzell hit the couple from behind, according to police, before bounding over the median into the westbound lane, where it struck another car that held four teenagers. It then plowed into a tree.

On the stand, Ms. Reitzell said that the couple's Chihuahua had darted into the road, so she swerved to avoid it and struck the Singhs accidentally; but she also testified that she doesn't remember the collision.

According to the prosecution, the collision was not her first that day: Ms. Reitzell had allegedly gotten into a non-injury crash earlier.

This also isn't her first time in court; she was on probation at the time of the fatal crash for a misdemeanor DUI conviction. Mr. Wagstaffe said that a probation officer warned her that she could kill someone by drinking and driving.

Ms. Reitzell remains in custody on $2 million bail. She's charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, causing injury while driving under the influence, and repeat driving under the influence with enhancements for injuring more than one person and for having a blood alcohol level higher than 0.15 percent.

Attorney Richard Keyes, appointed by the court to represent the defendant, asked for acquittal on the murder charges after the prosecution rested. Judge Robert Foiles denied the request.

Comments

37 people like this
Posted by RW
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2015 at 12:09 pm

"Marjorie Reitzell took the stand ... to testify in her defense, telling the court that she is capable of driving safely while intoxicated."

I have no words.


20 people like this
Posted by PV
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 14, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I have words: Guilty, punish to the full extent of the law!


11 people like this
Posted by AMS
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Nor I. This person is delusional - she needs to be put away some place where she is not a danger
to herself or others in the community.


17 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Yet another example of how dangerous a drug alcohol is. Not sure there's another one that causes more harm and more pain.


13 people like this
Posted by Chance
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm

She seems to have taken a path away from reality. She left three teenagers without their parents. Has she ever expressed remorse?


15 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

She needs to go away for a very long time.


19 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 14, 2015 at 3:31 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Regardless of being on probation, regardless of what the probation officer told her, regardless of what the prior judge told her, she is going to drink, drive and do whatever she wants. So, the answer is state prison for a very long time.


11 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2015 at 4:44 pm

pearl is a registered user.

Ms. Reitzell is a recidivist offender. She is also an alcoholic. She is also in denial. She is also already on probation for prior drunken driving offenses.

Given the current charges alone (to say nothing of her past offenses), Ms. Reitzell should be PUT AWAY FOR LIFE!!!

I have yet to meet or hear of a felony drunken driver who feels any remorse for running over, and in this case killing, their victims.

I am happy to pay for 3 hots and a cot for the incarcerated Ms. Reitzell for the rest of her life!!!


14 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 14, 2015 at 5:40 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Reminder - the accident that tragically resulted in the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Singh, wasn't Ms. Reitzell's first car accident THAT DAY.

Reitzell is the clearest example of an unrepentant menace I have ever seen.


11 people like this
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

I agree with Pogo and Menlo Voter, and her testimony seals it.

unrepentant menace, put her away.


Like this comment
Posted by Suzanne
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 15, 2015 at 10:13 am

Suzanne is a registered user.

Who is paying for this trial?

This is a complete waste of money and time. She is crazy, but what about the lawyer representing her and the legal system that is allowing this case to go to trial.

How can this lawyer/human being in good conscience put the family of the victims through a bogus trial? How much money will he make from this case?

She was undisputedly over the legal limit and she ADMITS to drinking while intoxicated at the time of the accident.

This is surreal. Why is there even a trial?

And why did she still have a license? And does she still have a valid license, is she still driving around?


5 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2015 at 2:38 pm

pearl is a registered user.

@Suzanne:

We, the taxpayers, are paying for this trial. Our taxes pay for the services of the San Mateo County DA's Office, plus our taxes will also pay for the services of court-appointed attorney, Richard Keyes.

The reason we go through the charade of a trial (even though Ms. Reitzell is obviously guilty), is because in our legal system everyone is "presumed innocent until proven guilty". So, we go through the motions of a costly trial...though, if this case is handled like the larger percentage of cases here in San Mateo County, it will most likely be "plea-bargained" down to some lesser charge(s) before the trial even gets started, therefore saving us taxpayers some money.

The one thing taxpayers can do: if a case is plea-bargained down to a lesser charge and lighter sentence, we can write to the sentencing judge letting him/her know of our objections and disapproval. On the other hand, if the sentencing judge metes out a stiff sentence, be sure to write a letter to the judge, thanking him/her for doing so.

The legal system here in California is woefully liberal, thus it's important to write to our judges who mete out stiff sentences, expressing our thanks to them.

And, the next time you vote for a judge, do your homework; don’t vote for a judge who has a track record of handing out light sentences.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

San Francisco's Urban Ritual boba pops up in Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,458 views

Couples: A Relationship Test . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,131 views

Food Party! SOS
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 923 views

Enjoy every configuration of your family
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 574 views