To the disappointment of more than 50 people who came to support Carolyn Taylor, the widow of a Ramona motorcyclist who was killed in 2009, a judge on May 4 allowed a Ramona motorist to withdraw her guilty plea to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and instead face a trial in July.
Katrina Flippin, 29, had pleaded guilty March 9 to all counts, but the plea terms allowed her to withdraw her plea if the probation department and District Attorney’s office sought the maximum sentence, which is one year in jail. The prosecutor and probation department recommended the maximum. Her attorney requested to withdraw the guilty plea, which was allowed by El Cajon Superior Court Judge Gary Bubis. A trial date was set for July 7.
Flippin was driving a rented Dodge sedan and made a U-turn in front of Olive Peirce Middle School on Sept. 15, 2009. Flippin had said she looked both ways before making the turn, but motorcyclist Mark Taylor, 46, crashed into her car and he died at the scene. Flippin was not injured. A California Highway Patrol officer said the victim had no time to react to the U-turn.
There was no use of drugs or alcohol involved, which is why the case was considered a misdemeanor. She is also charged with driving with a suspended license and without insurance. She remains free on her own recognizance.
“I had sincerely hoped that Katrina Flippin would accept the sentence given her,” Carolyn Taylor said. “All the court delays we have endured have been heart wrenching to a heart that is already torn apart.
“I cannot find the words to express the disappointment that she is not accepting her sentence and is going to put everyone through a trial. I feel this is such a letdown to my husband, Mark.”
Most of the supporters wore purple clothing or purple wristbands because that was Mark Taylor’s favorite color, said one friend, Dan Aptaker. The wristbands that many wore had these words: “In memory of Mark Taylor. No license—no driving.”
“I just watched the criminal justice system show justice to criminals,” said Aptaker. “I miss my buddy. There needs to be some type of justice.”
Jacquie Green, the former co-owner of the Ramona Sentinel, also showed up in support of Carolyn Taylor, a former Sentinel employee, and noted that many people previously attended other hearings regarding the case.
“The outpouring of support every time is amazing,” said Green.
Bubis told the crowd that he consulted with other judges about the case regarding whether to allow Flippin to withdraw her guilty pleas. He said he read many letters he received on the case and considered them in his ruling.
Deputy District Attorney Brooke Tafreshi said the trial is estimated to last a week. Another plea agreement is not likely since the defense knows what sentence the prosecution will seek, so the case will proceed to trial. Flippin has pleaded not guilty to all charges.