SANTA BARBARA – A crucial piece of evidence in a vehicular manslaughter case was destroyed months after the victim’s death and has cast the outcome of a pending juvenile court trial in doubt.
On May 27, 2010, 17-year-old Tyler Fourmy was behind the wheel of his family’s 1995 Toyota Previa minivan when he lost control of the vehicle on upscale Coast Village Road in Montecito. The careening vehicle jumped a bus stop curb and killed Florinda Flores, 47.
According to Santa Barbara police spokesman Lt. Paul McCaffrey, Fourmy “was not judged to be under the influence of any controlled substance” at the time of the accident.
Notwithstanding his voluntarily submitting to a blood-draw controlled substance analysis which indicated Fourmy was not under the influence, marijuana and paraphernalia were found in the vehicle. Fourmy, who told police investigators that the van’s brakes weren’t functioning, was arrested on multiple vehicle code violations as well as on charges of transporting marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
More than a year later, Fourmy, who is now 18, continues to deny the charges, which currently include vehicular manslaughter in the death of Flores.
Appearing Thursday in Santa Barbara County Juvenile Court, Fourmy’s public defender Mark Saatjian and Deputy District Attorney Von Nguyen were granted a continuance, postponing the trial date pending disposition of a number of pre-trial motions by Judge Thomas Adams.
Following the police department’s failure to preserve the minivan as evidence — two months after it was impounded it was sold and destroyed by the police impound yard — media interest in the case has increased dramatically.
Fourmy alleges that the destruction of the minivan seriously impacts his ability to assert his criminal defense, and Saatjian indicated in open court that he plans to ask the judge to “consider excluding the press from certain aspects of this case.”