BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Kern County judge on Tuesday denied a defense motion that sought to place a woman charged in a deadly hit-and-run crash into a mental health diversion program.
In denying the motion, Judge Chad Louie found it contained no opinion from a mental health expert stating Stephanie Heninger’s alleged post-traumatic stress disorder played a role in her fleeing the crash.
Deputy Public Defender Nick Roth argued Heninger suffered PTSD from spousal abuse, resulting in “heightened anxiety, hypervigilance and increased fight-or-flight response.”
Deputy District Attorney Anthony Yim, however, said nothing in the records indicated PTSD was a factor in Heninger’s actions.
Louie denied the motion without prejudice, meaning Roth can gather more information and refile. When a defendant is entered into a mental health diversion program, the court stops criminal proceedings while the defendant undergoes treatment and follows all requirements of the program.
Charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program.
Heninger has admitted driving the car police say started a chain-reaction crash July 22, 2020, on Stockdale Highway that killed Deborah Ann Geneau, 65, according to court filings. She fled the scene but surveillance video and a distinctive white decal on the car’s windshield resulted in her arrest nine months later.
She has pleaded not guilty to charges including gross vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run resulting in death or permanent serious injury. A trial is scheduled for July 5.