A Lompoc man charged with murder and accused of being drunk when authorities say he caused a deadly crash on Highway 1 near Lompoc last month has pleaded not guilty.
Bryan P. Charette, 35, entered the plea before a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge Friday during his continued arraignment.
Charette was arrested by the California Highway Patrol following the Sept. 21 head-on crash on Highway 1 south of Jalama Road that killed Alfredo Martinez, 73, of Oxnard.
On October 10, the California Attorney General’s Office filed five criminal charges against Charette, which included murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury to another person, driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol or higher causing bodily injury, and reckless driving causing great bodily injury.
The complaint also alleges that Charette was driving 30 miles or more above the speed limit at the time of the crash and has a prior conviction for DUI out of Santa Barbara County from 2007.
When asked why criminal charges were not filed locally against the 35-year-old, Mag Nicola with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office told KSBY News, “Sometimes a conflict of interest can arise if there is a relationship with a victim or suspect and an employee of our office.”
As of Friday, Charette remained in custody at Santa Barbara County Jail with bail set at $2 million.
He is due back in court Nov. 15.