A motorist who was allegedly drunk when his vehicle slammed into the back of a car in Rancho Bernardo, leaving a young woman with a serious brain injury, must stand trial on DUI charges, a judge ruled Thursday.
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After a morning-long preliminary hearing, Superior Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel found that enough evidence was presented for 39-year-old Brian LaRose to stand trial on charges of DUI causing injury and driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher.
LaRose, who is free on $100,000 bail, faces six years in state prison if convicted of the charges stemming from the Aug. 20 crash that seriously injured Heidi Wise near the intersection of Bernardo Center Drive and Maturin Drive around 10 p.m.
Wise testified Thursday that she remembered stopping at a grocery store to buy shampoo before driving to pick up her boyfriend from work.
"I don't know what I remember next," Wise said. "It's all a blur. I don't have any memory of driving down Bernardo Center Drive."
Wise -- who also said she doesn't remember being in the hospital -- testified that her short-term memory is "on and off" due to her head injury, and her long-term memory is coming back.
The 19-year-old woman also suffered injuries to her back, neck, arm and shoulder and has "extreme headaches."
"My whole body just goes weak," she said.
San Diego police Officer Steve Waldheim, the lead investigator in the case, testified that LaRose was traveling about 45 mph in a 40 mph zone when he hit Wise's Mercedes-Benz from behind while it was stopped waiting to make a left turn.
Witness Mark Chapon said he had just turned on to Bernardo Center Drive when a car passed him on the left at a high rate of speed.
Moments later, Chapon testified, the car that passed him crashed into the victim's car.
San Diego police Officer Brian Keaton testified that LaRose speech was slurred and there was an odor of alcohol coming from the defendant when the officer questioned him in an ambulance.
Keaton said LaRose told him that he was headed home after having four "normal size" glasses of wine at a nearby restaurant, and that he also had a mixed drink with some food about 3 p.m. at a local pub.
When asked about the accident, LaRose said "somebody crashed in front of him," according to the officer, who said the defendant had torn skin on his knee and bruises from his seat belt.
When Keaton took LaRose back to police headquarters to be booked, the defendant had trouble walking and almost fell into the toilet while urinating, Keaton testified.
LaRose's blood-alcohol level was .36 percent -- more than four times the legal limit for driving -- about an hour and 15 minutes after the crash, said Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer.
The defendant will be back in court Nov. 23 for a readiness conference. His trial was set for Dec. 2.
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