Driver accused of killing cyclist will stand trial

NEWPORT BEACH — A Newport Beach woman will stand trial on charges that she was driving drunk and texting when she hit and killed a bicyclist in Newport Coast, Orange County Superior Court Judge Derek G. Johnson ruled Thursday.

Danae Miller, 23, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The felony charge stems from a Feb. 21 accident on San Joaquin Hills Road that killed Amine Britel, a Moroccan athlete who had moved to the United States and ran a successful local business.

Out on $100,000 bail, Miller sat at the defendant’s table at the Harbor Justice Center on Thursday morning wearing a plum-colored pea coat and gray scarf. Britel’s family was seated behind her; her family was on the opposite side.

As prosecutors retraced the crash step by step, Britel’s friends and family were overcome with emotion. One woman left the courtroom crying, as a picture of Britel’s damaged bicycle and his body covered with a sheet were flashed onto a projector screen.

Pictures showed that at the time of the crash — just around sunset when the streetlights come on — Britel was wearing a bright yellow jacket with reflectors and riding a bicycle with reflectors and yellow tires.

Miller was on her way home from work at Café Zinc in Corona del Mar. Police said after initially telling authorities she hadn’t had anything to drink before driving, she later acknowledged having a glass of wine.

A blood test after the crash showed Miller had a blood alcohol concentration of .10, above the legal limit.

She told police that she didn’t see Britel before hitting him and that she wasn’t on her cell phone, Newport Beach police Officer Jason Blakely testified.

Miller told police she didn’t know she had hit someone until the glass from her windshield hit her arm, Blakely testified. Phone records showed she had been exchanging text messages with friends in the minutes leading up to the crash. Paul S. Meyer, Miller’s attorney, decided against calling any witnesses. Miller is scheduled back in court Dec. 12.