Zachary Airola´s attorney entered a denial of allegations for his client during a juvenile hearing last Friday morning. That´s the equivalent of a “not guilty” plea in adult court.
The remainder of the jurisdictional setting hearing was continued to 1 p.m., Nov. 25 at the request of attorney Richard A. Meyer, of Modesto.
Airola, 18, of Angels Camp, is charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and driving under the influence for an Aug. 5 single-vehicle accident that killed George Langston, 19, also of Angels Camp.
Meyer asked Calaveras County Superior Court Judge John Martin for the continuance so he could conduct his own investigations into the accident.
Deputy District Attorney Dan McConnell did not object to Meyer´s request.
Airola was at the wheel of a 1985 Chevrolet pickup when it left Highway 4 at a high rate of speed east of Parrotts Ferry Road, stuck an oak tree, and rolled over, killing Langston, who was a passenger, according to authorities.
A toxicology report revealed Airola had a blood alcohol level of 0.18. Meyer has requested a re-test of Airola´s blood sample. McConnell said that alone could take three to four weeks.
In a brief interview after Friday´s proceedings, Meyer said he was requesting the re-test as a matter of routine. “It´s something I do in every case,” Meyer said.
He´s also looking into the accident itself and whatever may have occurred before the incident. “I believe there´s more information to be obtained and I hope to do that through my investigations,” he said.
Although Airola is 18 now, he was 17 at the time of the incident and so is being tried in juvenile court. While most juvenile proceedings are closed, the gravity of this charge allows it to be heard in open court.
Meyer filed a motion Sept. 23 seeking to bar the press from the court, and to prohibit the use of Airola´s name in future reports. He withdrew that motion Friday, noting it was drawing more undue publicity to the case.
Even if the court had upheld the motion to ban the use of Airola´s name, “it would have been difficult to have the order enforced,” Meyer said.
Calalveras Enterprise story by Craig Koscho. For more Calaveras news, click: calaverasenterprise.com