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Man, 24, pleads not guilty to murder in Fountain Valley DUI crash

Man, 24, pleads not guilty to murder in Fountain Valley DUI crash
Jonathan Truong St. Thomas, 24, of Westminster pleaded not guilty to a murder charge stemming from a DUI crash that left a woman dead in Fountain Valley. (Courtesy of the Orange County District Attorney)

A Westminster man pleaded not guilty Monday to a murder charge stemming from an alleged DUI crash that left a 25-year-old woman dead in Fountain Valley.

Jonathan Truong St. Thomas, 24, was allegedly driving a Lexus GS sedan at 110 mph south on Magnolia Street near Mint Avenue at about 11:35 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2017, when the crash occurred.

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Prosecutors allege St. Thomas’ blood-alcohol content was .15% — nearly twice the legal limit — at the time of the collision.

Fountain Valley police wrote in an Orange County Superior Court affidavit that St. Thomas was racing another vehicle when he lost control, slid across the painted median into wrong-way traffic on Magnolia and crashed into a Toyota sedan.

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The driver of the sedan, Melanie Barlow, 25, of Fountain Valley was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange and pronounced dead.

Barlow’s vehicle was severely damaged. Firefighters had to cut the roof off the car to get her out.

A witness told police that she saw the Lexus speed through a red light at McFadden Avenue prior to the crash, according to an affidavit.

“The person was driving like he wanted to die,” the witness said.

If convicted, St. Thomas faces 15 years to life in state prison.

St. Thomas, who is listed as an assistant manager in jail records, is being held in Orange County Jail in Santa Ana in lieu of $1 million bail. He is expected to appear in court this week for a pretrial hearing.

As police were investigating the crash, another man identified by police as Matthew Earl Snoyman, 34, drove a pickup truck through the barricades, triggering an officer-involved shooting, authorities alleged.

Snoyman faces one count each of driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit and driving under the influence of alcohol, both misdemeanors, as well as two felony counts of assault on a peace officer. He has pleaded not guilty, court records show.

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