Almanac

News - November 20, 2013

Menlo Park: Preliminary hearing set in fatal DUI case

by Sandy Brundage

After a three-week delay, court proceedings finally got underway for a woman charged with vehicular manslaughter and felony driving under the influence related to an accident that killed a Menlo Park couple.

Marjorie Reitzell, 54, of Redwood City pleaded not guilty on Nov. 12 to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and two counts of felony driving under the influence.

Balbir Singh, 50, and Kamal Kaur Singh, 45, were walking their Chihuahua in the bike lane eastbound on Chilco Street during the early evening of Oct. 24 when they were hit from behind by a 1998 Honda Accord driven by Ms. Reitzell, according to police.

The Singhs leave behind three teenage children; their oldest daughter plans to start college in January.

A preliminary screen showed that Ms. Reitzell's blood alcohol the night of the fatal collision was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Convicted of a misdemeanor DUI in November 2012, she had a valid driver's license at the time of the fatal collision, according to law enforcement officials.

Ms. Reitzell was booked into jail and scheduled for arraignment three weeks ago. However, just before court started on Oct. 28, she complained of chest pains and was taken away for medical treatment at the county hospital, according to the district attorney.

The judge continued the arraignment until she was cleared to appear in court, which is standard procedure.

Represented by county-provided attorney, Ms. Reitzell remains in custody on $2 million bail. A judge has set her preliminary hearing for Jan. 17.

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