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Trial set for Fallbrook woman accused of killing 86-year-old Menifee resident with SUV

Saturday, February 15th, 2014
Issue 07, Volume 18.

A June 3 trial date was confirmed today for a woman accused of killing an 86-year-old Menifee resident while racing through an intersection drunk at the wheel of her SUV.

Melissa Danae Dean-Baumann, 39, of Fallbrook could face 20 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder, DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, child endangerment, DUI with injuries and sentence-enhancing allegations of inflicting great bodily injury on a person over 70 years old.

Dean-Baumann appeared with her attorney before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez for a status conference at the Riverside Hall of Justice. After the prosecution and defense indicated they would be prepared to move forward, Hernandez scheduled trial to begin the first week of June.

However, an intervening hearing is set for March 24 to verify both sides are on track.

Dean-Baumann remains free on a $500,000 bond.

She's accused of killing Phyllis Fleming and seriously injuring the woman's husband, Donald Advertisement
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Fleming, in a Dec. 13, 2012, crash at the intersection of McCall Boulevard and Encanto Drive in Menifee.

According to sheriff's investigators, the defendant was driving her Chevrolet SUV westbound on McCall at a high rate of speed about 12:30 p.m. and became distracted by her 3-year-old child in the rear seat.

Dean-Baumann failed to see the red light at McCall and continued into the intersection.

About that time, Donald Fleming initiated a left-turn from eastbound McCall to head north on Encanto, investigators said. The victim was turning on a green arrow.

The SUV collided with the passenger side of the Saturn, fatally injuring Phyllis Fleming, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The woman's husband was hospitalized with major injuries, from which he has mostly recovered, prosecutors said.

Dean-Baumann was treated for moderate injuries. Her child, strapped in a safety seat, was not hurt.



Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #1 | Saturday, Feb 15, 2014 at 4:30 pm
When will this madness end? When? How many more innocent people have to die at the hands of drunk drivers? Why do we as a society put up with this? Why? When will we as a society once and for all say that enough is enough and instead have a 0.0% alcohol level driving limit? When?

A person is dead and nobody is outraged and no change is made. Nothing. It's as if we are soulless and heartless corpses with no feelings whatsoever. Absolutely mindboggling. And shameful.
Comment Profile ImageSupporter
Comment #2 | Friday, Feb 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm
I wish I could "like" a comment here because I agree with "Lee". It is utterly ridiculous that drunk drivers are not tried for manslaughter and given the same sentence as someone that murders in cold blood. Driving drunk is absolutely a choice and should be treated as such. Murder is murder.
Comment Profile ImageZZZ
Comment #3 | Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm
All the bars would have to close and restaurants serving alcohol. And you know THAT isn't going to happen...
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #4 | Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm
@ #2 Supporter

Thank you.

Here's another part I don't get about this story and our legal system in general. This woman kills a person while driving intoxicated. The state, in this case our State of California, arrests her and charges her with charge. Yes, true, she is innocent until proven guilty. We all get that. BUT, the state ALSO let's her go free until the trial which entails two fallacies. One, the accused can ONCE again, or several more times, kill a person while driving intoxicated. Oh sure, she may have a stipulation that she may not drive until the trial, but is that REALLY going to stop somebody? Therefore, if, heaven forbid, this in fact would happen, i.e., that the accused DOES kill yet another person while driving intoxicated, isn't the state that let her go free . . . negligent and an accomplice to this new crime? I say, heck yes! Two, by arresting and charging the accused with a crime -- yes, yes, a potential crime -- the state says that, YES, you have committed a crime and are charged as such, yet in the next breath the state let's her go free until the trial. Now wait just a dog gone pickin' minute! Why charge her and arrest her . . . if the state also has the ability to let her go free until the trial? (Or vice versa, I suppose.)

This woman has KILLED a person while driving intoxicated! Hello! Isn't that reason enough to be locked up behind bars UNTIL the trial?!

There is something FUNDAMENTALLY wrong with our legal system when a person who commits a crime is let go BY THE STATE, no less, to be free until the trial and potentially repeat the same crime again. Imagine letting a murderer go home free after he/she has set bail and before the trial!

Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile ImageLee
Comment #5 | Saturday, Feb 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm
@ #3 ZZZ

No, all the bars and restaurants do not have to close. That is complete ignorance. You can have a 0.0% legal driving limit AND have bars open. There are plenty of countries who have such a law. No, I will not look up the countries for you; look them up yourself.

You just may learn something.
Comment Profile Imageoldtimer
Comment #6 | Sunday, Feb 23, 2014 at 11:52 am
I agree with both Lee and Supporter. It is unconscionable that this country does not deal with drunk drivers like the danger they are to all of us who drive or ride on the roads, or deal with those who maim and kill people while driving drunk like the assaulters and murderers they are.

There are countries where drinking is enjoyed and drunk driving is not tolerated. Bars and restaurants thrive and the public supports tough sanctions for drunk driving. Drunk drivers who repeat the offense...even with no injury or property damage...can lose the privilege of driving FOR LIFE.

If this driver had killed someone with a knife or a gun or bludgeoned her to death, the official attitude would have been different. Why do we as a society excuse drunken assault and homicide by vehicle?

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


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