BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A woman accused of leaving the scene of a fatal crash is seeking to enter a pretrial diversion program on the grounds she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from domestic violence.

If the court finds Stephanie Heninger qualifies, she could avoid jail time and instead undergo treatment through a mental health diversion program.

The District Attorney’s office is opposing the defense motion filed earlier this month. It’s scheduled to be heard Tuesday.

Heninger has admitted driving the vehicle police say started a chain-reaction crash July 22, 2020, on Stockdale Highway that killed Deborah Ann Geneau, 65, according to court filings. A nine-month investigation led to her arrest.

A motion filed by Deputy Public Defender Nick Roth says Heninger’s PTSD played a “significant role” in her actions.

“Experiencing a new, traumatic event would almost certainly trigger exaggerated feelings of anxiety, panic, hyper-vigilance, and paranoia that would culminate in an uncompromising ‘fight or flight’ response,” Roth wrote.

In Heninger’s case, Roth wrote in the motion, prior domestic abuse prompted feelings of paranoia about the crash and fear of “violent retribution” if her husband learned she damaged their vehicle or got in legal trouble.

“For these reasons, it is clear that Ms. Heninger’s post-traumatic stress disorder played a substantial role in the criminal conduct alleged in this case,” Roth said.

Prosecutors have filed an opposition to the motion and will further argue against it at next week’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said.

“Mental health diversion was created by state law and has eligibility requirements that must be met in order to be considered eligible,” Kinzel said in an email. “Even if all requirements are met, it is still within the court’s discretion to determine whether a felony case is sent to a mental health diversion process rather than allowing the criminal prosecution to proceed.”

The Sentra police say caused the crash was caught on surveillance video and a distinctive white decal on the car’s windshield helped lead investigators to Heninger in April of last year, according to court documents.

She at first denied involvement but eventually admitted to driving the car and fleeing the scene, according to the documents.

The car had been repossessed in March and transported to Los Angeles to be sold at auction. The documents said investigators examined it and found a decal matching the one seen in the footage, as well as damage consistent with being in the crash.