Judge orders murder trial in two traffic deaths

A judge on Thursday ordered a Ramona man to stand trial on two murder charges that involve a drunk driving collision on state Route 78 in which the man's passenger was killed along with the driver of another car.

A packed courtroom heard the evidence against Shannon Kelly Shimp, 35, who is also accused of two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated that involve the deaths of Joseph Edwards, 52, of Ramona, and Ian Kinney, 19, of Julian, on July 22. Edwards was Shimp's passenger.

A number of California Highway Patrol officers and other witnesses testified in the preliminary hearing that was conducted by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian. Shimp was driving a white 1998 Chevy flatbed truck around 6 p.m. when he collided with a Lexus driven by Kinney. The truck overturned on top of the Lexus and Kinney died at the scene.

Kinney's girlfriend, who suffered major injuries, testified, saying she recalled "a white blur" of a truck out of the corner of her eye before the collision. She said the next thing she remembered was waking up in a hospital. Kinney's parents also attended the hearing, which lasted all day.

Deputy District Attorney Monte Bennett said he filed the second-degree murder charges against Shimp because he showed "a conscious disregard for life," which is an element of second-degree murder.

"We think the driver showed implied malice," said Bennett, adding that implied malice is another element that a jury must find to convict of second-degree murder.

Shimp had been charged with several misdemeanors, including seat belt violations, having a defective windshield, and driving with a suspended license. The judge did not order him to stand trial on the misdemeanors as the prosecution did not present any evidence for them.

Bennett said that, since Shimp is already facing two murder charges, additional misdemeanor counts would not add anything to a sentence if he is convicted.

A message was left for Kerry Steigerwalt, Shimp's attorney, but he could not be reached for comment by press time.

Shimp has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He initially was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, but Bennett added the murder charges last month.

If convicted, Shimp could get 30 years to life in prison. Hanoian ordered him to next appear in court on Dec. 3, when a trial date will be set.

Shimp remains in the George Bailey Detention Facility on $406,500 bail.

   
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