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Decision on trial expected for woman accused in deadly wrong-way crash

Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 23:06:15-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The preliminary hearing got underway Wednesday for a case that saw the California Highway Patrol reverse course on blame months after a deadly wrong-way crash.

Lauren Freeman appeared in court almost a year to the day of the deadly wrong crash on the transition ramp between I-5 and I-8 near Old Town about 2 a.m.

Justin Callahan, 35 , who was driving a Volkswagen Jetta, died at the scene, while Freeman and her passenger in a Toyota Camry suffered serious injuries in the crash.

The CHP initially thought Callahan was driving the wrong way, eastbound in the westbound lanes, but family members told 10News it didn't make sense because he should have been heading to Ocean Beach from the South Bay after work, and not away from it.

After a more thorough probe, investigators determined it was Freeman who was driving the wrong way and driving under the influence. Officers arrested her in November on charges including murder and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

"We're just hoping for justice. The truth came out through the CHP and now we have the justice system to go through," said Tommy Villafranca, Callahan's brother.

On the stand, one witness says he was driving on I-8 headed toward Sunset Cliffs, when he and his passenger saw a light-colored 4-door car race past him going the wrong way.

"I was in the car ... noticed headlights coming in my direction. You see it and by the time it registers, it drove past me ... it was crazy," said Valentino Asuncion IV.

10News reached out to a contingent of Freeman's supporters, who declined to comment. The hearing will stretch into Thursday, when the judge will decide if it heads to trial.