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COUNTYWIDE : D.A. to Appeal Ruling in AIDS Case

The Ventura County district attorney’s office said Thursday it will ask the state Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision requiring a preliminary hearing in the case of a man accused of intentionally infecting a woman with AIDS.

David S. Crother, 45, of Santa Barbara was indicted Jan. 11 on 15 counts of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly infecting a Ventura woman with the AIDS virus. The woman, and the child allegedly fathered by Crother, have both tested positive for the virus, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

Since passage in June of Proposition 115, prosecutors have two options when they file a case: They can have a preliminary hearing in Municipal Court where a judge determines if there is evidence to support the charge, or they can ask the grand jury to make the same determination and issue an indictment. In either case, if the evidence is sufficient, the case then goes to Superior Court for trial.

After Crother was indicted, his attorney, Robert M. Sanger, said Crother was still entitled to a preliminary hearing because the alleged sexual liaisons occurred before Proposition 115 passed, changing some court procedures.

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Judge Lawrence Storch agreed with that position in a ruling March 1, and Wednesday the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura declined to overturn the ruling.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent J. O’Neill Jr. said Thursday that he will take the case to the state Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in a similar case within a few weeks. Storch granted a 10-day stay, after which prosecutors must file the case in Municipal Court and schedule a preliminary hearing, he said.

Prosecutors have said Crother is the first person in California to be charged with assault for allegedly spreading the AIDS virus through sex.


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