SOMIS : D.A. Wants Mannes Ruling Reconsidered

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The Ventura County district attorney’s office has asked a federal judge to reconsider his ruling that a Somis woman who killed three youths while driving drunk may not be retried on murder charges.

U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima ruled Feb. 7 that Diane Mannes, 35, cannot be retried for murder. The ruling noted that when the jury deadlocked after Mannes’ first trial, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Robert Soares said there was not enough evidence to convict Mannes of murder.

In a request for a hearing filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, prosecutors argued that they were entitled to try Mannes again regardless of the judge’s comments and that the California Supreme Court had upheld that position. But Tashima agreed with Deputy Public Defender Robert Dahlstedt, who argued that a retrial is precluded by the Fifth Amendment’s protection against being tried twice for the same offense.


Vincent J. O’Neill Jr., chief deputy district attorney, said prosecutors hope to argue the case before Tashima on March 11. If they fail to persuade him to change his ruling, the case will be appealed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, O’Neill said.

Mannes is serving a four-year term for felony drunk driving and causing bodily injury to two people in the same case.