Hit & run defense: Alleged drunk driver left personal info at scene

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A suspected drunk driver hit and killed a woman on Highway 180 last year and later drove away.

Kenia Rodriguez is now charged with hit and run causing death, plus DUI, but she did two things at the scene of the crash that could provide a defense.

Rodriguez knew she hit someone on the highway near Centerville and after the collision, she did the right thing, at least initially.

She told a CHP officer she got bad advice.

"(She) stopped at the scene, was contacted by other people that had stopped at the scene and was told to continue on her way because it was an accident," said CHP officer Joshua Beard.

Investigators say 42-year-old Heather Martinez had parked alongside the highway and walked into traffic.

Witnesses saw Rodriguez stop and they tried to help her while they also called 911.

"She was crying and I really couldn't understand what she was saying, but she asked to use my phone and I'm guessing she was calling for help," said witness Vanessa Bravo.

Rodriguez called someone, but not law enforcement.

She later asked the witnesses for a pen and a piece of paper where she wrote down her name and phone number before leaving.

California law says drivers involved in collisions have to stop, render assistance, and provide personal information for the police.

Rodriguez's attorney says she did what the law requires.

"She had asked, as the witness said, for a piece of paper and a pen to leave her information and she left that information," said defense attorney David Jones.

But prosecutors say she didn't do enough, possibly because she was drunk. Her blood alcohol content tested at .12%.

Judge Michael Idiart agreed that the law requires drivers to leave more information, including an address and car registration.

He ruled there's enough evidence for Rodriguez to stand trial, but also noted she might not really be to blame for the collision.

"This does not strike me as a state prison case, number one," he said. "Number two, it might even be negotiated to a misdemeanor."

Negotiations towards a plea deal will ramp up before her next scheduled court hearing in January.
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