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Mannes Arrested on Suspected Parole Violation : Crime: Police say Somis woman had been drinking. Last year, she pleaded guilty to killing 3 in drunk-driving accident.

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SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Diane Helen Mannes, who killed three young men in a drunk-driving accident five years ago, was arrested early Saturday for violating her parole after sheriff’s deputies found her under the influence of alcohol in a parked car, officials said.

Mannes, whose widely publicized case went as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, was found in possession of alcoholic beverages and under the influence of alcohol in a car at Pleasant Valley Park in Camarillo about 2:30 a.m., sheriff’s officials said.

The Somis woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths last August and was given five years probation with a three-year, eight-month suspended prison term. She could face up to three years and eight months in state prison for the parole violation, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin G. DeNoce.

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“One of her key terms of probation was abstaining from alcohol,” DeNoce said. “We see it as one of the most serious violations she could have committed.”

Linda Oxenreider, whose 19-year-old son, Joshua, was one of the men killed in the 1989 accident, expressed frustration and anger over Mannes’ alleged parole violation.

“I certainly hope at this point they will put her in prison,” she said. “I want them to put her back in now before she kills another person. I don’t know how much more it’s going to take. Isn’t three dead boys enough?”

After sheriff’s deputies discovered Mannes sitting in a parked car with an unidentified man Saturday morning, they contacted her parole officer, who requested that they arrest her for violating parole, sheriff’s deputies said.

“They were aware of who she was and knew she was prohibited from drinking,” Lt. Gary Markley said.

The terms of Mannes’ probation stipulate that she abstain from drinking and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

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Mannes, 39, was recently accused of violating her probation for failing to attend AA meetings and doctoring attendance sheets to hide her absence.

On Friday, her parole officer was preparing an amendment to the violation notice because Mannes still was not attending the meetings, DeNoce said.

The probation-violation case is scheduled for a hearing on June 23 in Ventura County Superior Court.

DeNoce said he intends to include Mannes’ latest violation in that case and hopes Judge Charles W. Campbell Jr. will send her to prison.

“With the alcohol violation, I’m very confident that she is going to go back to state prison,” DeNoce said. “She’s clearly demonstrated that she’s not a candidate for probation.”

Mannes is being held in Ventura County Main Jail until her parole officer approves her release, jail and sheriff’s officials said.

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In March, 1989, three young men were killed and two injured when Mannes’ car swerved onto the shoulder of the Ventura Freeway on the Conejo Grade. The teen-agers were seeking help for a flat tire when the accident occurred.

A half-empty bottle of vodka was found in Mannes’ car. It was later reported that she had been arrested the night before on a drunk-driving charge in the San Fernando Valley.

Mannes served about two years in prison for a felony drunk-driving conviction she received for injuring the two young men. But the jury deadlocked on three counts of second-degree murder.

A federal court blocked prosecutors from retrying the case, saying a trial judge’s comment that there was insufficient evidence to support a murder verdict constituted an acquittal.

Prosecutors sought to try Mannes on gross vehicular manslaughter charges after a federal appeals court upheld the court’s decision and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

But a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled in February, 1993, that she could not be charged with manslaughter because it constituted double jeopardy.

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While the district attorney’s office was waiting for a decision on its appeal, Mannes agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter, provided she serve no more time in prison.

Oxenreider, now president of the Ventura County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said she was not surprised by Mannes’ arrest.

“I knew it was coming,” she said. “She was hardly on probation less than eight months before she started missing meetings. . . .I knew she wasn’t going to make it. She’s never shown any remorse and I don’t think she thought she had an alcohol problem.”

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