A judge set bail at $2 million Wednesday for a 19-year-old accused of blowing through a stop sign and killing five people while driving intoxicated.
Ronald Jayne Jr. is unlikely to make bail, said his attorney, Jeffrey Shaner, after a hearing in Justice Court.
Shaner said the district attorney’s case against Jayne is not as clear as authorities have asserted in the police report and other court documents.
He said Claudia Dominguez, the 32-year-old driver who died in the crash along with her 9-year-old son and three other family members, also might have driven through the stop sign at the intersection of Farm Road and Tenaya Way and might bear some responsibility for the crash.
Jayne was arrested May 6 and charged with eight counts of driving under the influence involving a death or substantial bodily harm. According to police, he had a 0.19 percent blood-alcohol level, more than twice the legal limit.
“This case is exceptionally simple except for the fact of the horrendous carnage,” prosecutor L.J. O’Neale said.
O’Neale said Jayne was driving his truck 80 mph in a 35-mph zone through a stop sign at the intersection when he hit Dominguez’s 1998 Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle. The vehicle was carrying eight people, three of whom survived.
The force of the collision ruptured the SUV’s gas tank, causing it to catch fire. Witnesses said that as passers-by pulled victims out of the flame-engulfed wreckage, Jayne “sat on a curb, smoking a cigarette and reportedly said, ‘Well, I guess I’m in trouble,’” O’Neale told the judge.
Jayne is facing 160 years in prison if convicted of all counts and sentenced to the maximum, O’Neale said. He said that might prompt the teenager to flee the area if released on bail.
O’Neale said the investigation revealed that Dominguez was going 16 mph in the middle of the intersection when the crash occurred, meaning she could have stopped and quickly accelerated to that speed or driven slowly through the sign.
Shaner said his client posed no flight risk and asked Judge Ann Zimmerman to let Jayne, a military reservist, out on a reasonable bail or house arrest, given his lack of a felony record. Shaner said Jayne’s parents are devastated, adding that they could house Jayne under electronic surveillance while he awaits trial.
“At this juncture, he’s presumed innocent,” Shaner said.
He said the $2 million bail was tantamount to no bail.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 9, when Zimmerman will decide whether Jayne will stand trial in District Court as charged.
A handful of Dominguez’s grieving friends and family attended the hearing. They declined to speak to the Review-Journal.