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Teen Driver in Desert Crash to Start Jail Term

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Anaheim teenager who pleaded guilty to drunk driving in connection with a crash that killed four friends will begin a four-month jail term today, the youth’s attorney said Thursday.

While serving the term, James Patterson will do odd jobs around the Huntington Beach City Jail and then enroll in a residential alcohol treatment program, also for four months, attorney Michael Horan said. In addition, Patterson must complete 170 hours of community service.

Under a deal reached two months ago with the San Bernardino Juvenile Court, Patterson, 18, agreed to various probation conditions in connection with the July 1995, desert crash near Victorville.

On Thursday, San Bernardino prosecutors lost a bid to have supervision of Patterson’s case returned to San Bernardino. A judge there ruled that he had no jurisdiction because the case, in accordance with procedure, has been transferred to Orange County Juvenile Court so authorities closer to Patterson’s home can monitor him.

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San Bernardino authorities sought a return of the case after an Orange County judge granted the Katella High School senior permission to attend his graduation ceremony, despite a provision in his sentence that barred him from the event.

Judge Ronald E. Owen said excluding Patterson from the ceremony constituted “cruel and unusual punishment,” an opinion that angered parents of the dead boys and San Bernardino County Deputy Dist. Atty. Colin Bilash, who prosecuted Patterson. Patterson decided not to attend the ceremony.


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