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Judge denies request in Agua Dulce crash trial

Lawyer representing DUI suspect argues pedestrian victim to blame for her own death

Posted: March 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 27, 2012 1:55 a.m.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Monday denied a lawyer’s request to have the murder charge thrown out  against an Agua Dulce resident accused of being intoxicated and killing his neighbor with his car.

Judge Bernie LaFerteza told the lawyer representing 64-year-old Dennis Keene that Keene remains charged with murder and drunken driving in the August crash that killed Lori Lindlief, 55, while she was walking her dogs on an Agua Dulce street.

He rejected the defense’s argument that Lindlief was to blame for her own death, after she allegedly darted out in front of the
Keene vehicle.

“This is a man driving down a dirt road that had three houses on it, at a low rate of speed,” said James A. Bates, Keene’s lawyer.

“He was not weaving,” he said. “And, the person hit was in the road, walking five dogs without a leash that had no reflective collars.”

The judge disagreed.

“Based on the record and after hearing this argument, I find there is sufficient evidence to show probable cause,” LaFerteza said.

Keene, sporting a bushy gray goatee with his thinning gray hair combed back and wearing a blue county jail jumpsuit, was led handcuffed into court by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy on Monday.

At least a half-dozen of Lindlief’s friends and relatives sat in court Monday listening to Keene’s lawyer blame the Agua Dulce woman for her own death.

“By going out into the road, the decedent put herself on the road, and that would make this a misdemeanor (driving while intoxicated),” Bates told the judge.

LaFerteza replied: “So, because the victim went out into the road she was at fault in her own death?”

“It was a dart out,” Bates said.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Choi reminded the judge to weigh the “totality of the case” in making his decision.

“This defendant had a history of DUI,” she said. “He had personal knowledge about the dangers of drinking and driving.”

In custody

Keene was arrested in August and charged in connection with the death of Lindlief, also of White Fox Lane in Agua Dulce.

Lindlief had been walking at least four of her dogs with her boyfriend on Mabana Street, just west of White Fox Lane, when she was hit by a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, sheriff’s deputies reported at the time.

In September, Keene posted the $1 million bail amount to be released from custody.

Then a week before Christmas, on the heels of a preliminary hearing, he was ordered to stand trial and had his bail increased from $1 million to $3 million.

He remains in custody.



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