Driver in DUI crash that killed 4 denied parole

Crime Watch

Michael Curtis in 2020, courtesy of CDCR.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A man convicted 20 years ago of driving drunk at speeds reaching 104 mph in a crash that killed his four passengers was denied parole this week, according to prosecutors and corrections officials.

Michael Curtis, 41, will have to wait five years for his next chance at parole, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He’s housed at Avenal State Prison in Kings County, where he’s serving 15 years to life.

The crash scene. Courtesy of Kern County District Attorney’s office.

On Nov. 18, 2001, an intoxicated Curtis, then 21, went to buy more beer and picked up a three teen girls and a friend, prosecutors said, intending to give the girls alcohol to take advantage of them.

“Curtis has since admitted that intoxicated younger girls were ‘the perfect scenario’ for him, because he felt he was more likely to not be caught if he raped younger children,” prosecutors said.

With the four passengers in his car, Curtis sped through fog so thick he couldn’t see past the hood of the vehicle, according to prosecutors. He lost control and hit a power pole on 7th Standard Road.

Michael Curtis in 2001, courtesy Kern County DA’s office.

Three passengers died on impact, and a fourth burned to death, screaming for help as Curtis ran away, prosecutors said. Those killed were Tara Mitchell and Amy Simons-Spaulding, both 14, Shantelee Batchelor, 13, and Jeffrey Chaffin, 20.

Curtis later claimed he was carjacked but in February 2002 pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and unrelated sexual assault charges.

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