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.