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Fatal 405 Freeway crash hearing postponed for driver

June 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A preliminary hearing was postponed Tuesday for a woman accused of causing a fatal car crash while texting and driving in Westminster.

Prosecutors allege Jorene Nicolas was so distracted while speeding along the 405 Freeway in Fountain Valley in April 2011 that she slammed into the back of Deanna Mauer's car, which was stopped in traffic. Deanna, a 23-year-old star pitcher at San Jose State University, was killed.

"It's still difficult for me to cope with it, obviously, because someone passed away and we're continuing to pray for her and her family as well," said Nicolas Tuesday.

Nicolas, a San Diego resident, was charged in January with manslaughter with gross negligence. Prosecutors allege Nicolas did not slow down or hit her brakes before the violent crash. The defense says cellphone records prove that.

"We certainly know at this point that Ms. Nicolas was not on her cellphone and she was not texting," said defense attorney Eric Lampel. "It's a tragic accident and we feel very badly for the Mauer family."

Nicolas has pleaded not guilty. Lempel says she was not speeding and was not distracted.

In the past Nicolas claimed Mauer cut her off. She didn't talk about specifics Tuesday. In court, her preliminary hearing was continued so her attorney can look at other evidence.

"It's my job to look at all the evidence, try to get both cars examined, not just my client's car, and see if there was a mechanical defect on either car that could have caused or contributed to this traffic accident," said Lampel.

Nicolas remains free on $100,000 bail. She's expected to be back in court on July 18. If convicted, Nicolas faces up to six years behind bars.