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Cyclists pack Bend hearing for fatal DUII crash suspect

Bend dentist was hit, killed Dec. 30 on Dodds Road

Fatal DUII crash suspect arraigned...

BEND, Ore. - (Update: Father of victim speaks in court; cyclist comment)

Dozens of members of Central Oregon's cycling community packed a Bend courtroom Tuesday morning for the arraignment of a Bend woman facing manslaughter, DUII and other charges, accused of striking and killing a bicyclist east of town Dec. 30.

Shantel Lynn Witt, 41, was arrested at the scene of the crash that killed Bend dentist Marika Stone, 38.

According to investigators, Witt was driving her gray 2002 GMC Sierra pickup eastbound on Dodds Road, near the intersection with Obernolte Road.

The crowd at Tuesday's hearing was so large that Deschutes County Circuit Judge Michael Adler asked people to wait in the courthouse lobby, for safe clearance into and out of the courtroom.

Area cyclists attended the arraignment and brought their helmets as a sign of solidarity. 

Cyclist Dillon Caldwell said their goal at attending the hearing was “kind of giving a face to the cycling community, because a lot of motorists who don’t know that community see us on the road as a nuisance, and see us as being in the way. Showing them that we’re real people.”

Witt appeared with her attorney, Bryan Donahue, for arraignment on the DA's initial charges, as the prosecution asked Judge Adler to raise her bail to $500,000 telling him she was a flight risk.

Witt was released from jail the morning after the crash after posting $27,000 security on her $245,000 bail.

Deputy District Attorney Kari Hathorn said Witt was driving recklessly and swerved onto the other side of road, where she allegedly hit the bicyclist, then kept on driving, but returned to the crash scene.

"The defendant's initial response, while Ms. Stone was lying on the ground, was to shout to the other riders that were present about 'effing bicyclists, always in the center of the lane!'" Hathorn said.

The prosecutor said someone who spoke with Witt two days after the crash told authorities she was not expressing any remorse and was barely intelligible.

Hathorn said the DA's office is still waiting for blood test results to see what controlled substance Witt was under the influence of at the time of the crash. But attorneys for both sides said she was under the influence of drugs, not alcohol.

Donahue told Adler his client does not pose a flight risk and said she would have left the area already, if she had wanted to.

Stone's father, Gregory Middag, spoke to the judge, asking him to apply more conditions towards Witt. 

"This tragic crash in the resulting death of Marika Stone is not fair, reasonable or just," Middag said. "It was reckless, irresponsible, thoughtless and an act that never should have occurred.

"We're here today in an effort to prevent a needless loss of life, and protect others who are potentially at risk if the defendant for this case is not remanded into custody until the conclusion of this case," Middag said. 

The judge said he believed the previously set bail was appropriate, but also set new conditions. He ordered Witt placed under house arrest, with a GPS ankle tracking device. Adler also said Witt is not to drive, drink alcohol or take any controlled substances without a prescription.

Witt is scheduled to return to court on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. for arraignment on an expected formal indictment.

Family and friends will have celebration of life at Summit High School gymnasium on Jan. 27 at 10:00 a.m.

A memorial fund has been set up for Marika Stone at Columbia Bank, the money will go to charity or a scholarship. 


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