Arraignment for Laguna doctor postponed

An Orange County Superior Court judge granted a defense attorney's request Monday to postpone the arraignment of a Laguna Beach doctor accused of colliding head-on with another car and killing two men in April on Laguna Canyon Road.

Robert McFarland Pettis, 48, was scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Newport Beach's Harbor Justice Center, but his attorney, Paul Meyer, asked Judge Carlton Biggs for a postponement to Dec. 19.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Anna McIntire agreed to the delay.

"We'll work on discovery [fact-finding] and with the D.A. if any issues come up," Meyer told Biggs, with Pettis present in the courtroom.

On Friday, the Orange County district attorney's office filed against Pettis two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one felony count of driving the wrong way on a divided highway causing death, adding sentencing enhancements for inflicting great bodily harm, according to a news release.

Pettis is accused of driving his Tesla Model S at a high-rate of speed while going north on Laguna Canyon Road around 6:40 a.m. April 2.

He is believed to have crossed the double yellow lines into the southbound lanes, leading to a collision with a Honda Accord that killed the driver, 47-year-old Anaheim resident Alberto Casique, and its passenger, Armando Gonzalez, 38, of Santa Ana, the district attorney's office said.

Authorities pronounced both men, previously identified as Casique-Salinas and Garcia-Gonzalez, dead at the scene, the release said.

"Alcohol was not a factor in this case," district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami wrote in an email.

As for why it took more than seven months to formally file charges, Emami said, "These types of cases often take a lot of investigation to do a thorough job."

Pettis posted $100,000 bond Monday, the Superior Court website said.

If convicted, Pettis faces a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months in state prison, according to the district attorney.

—Bryce Alderton

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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