Thursday May 10 2012
No bail break for Auburn I-80 hit-and-run manslaughter defendant
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Bail remains at $210,000 for Christopher Keller, 25, of Newcastle
AUBURN CA - The accused hit-and-run driver in the March 20 death of a tow-truck driver on Interstate 80 near Auburn was denied any bail reduction Thursday. Appearing in Placer County Superior Court in front of Judge James Garbolino, 25-year-old Christopher Keller of Newcastle was returned to Placer County Jail after being turned down in a hearing for either home release with a GPS monitoring device or reduction in the current $210,000 bail amount. ?Motion denied,? was Garbolino?s succinct order, in a high-profile case that revolves not only around charges of hit and run in a fatal pedestrian-vehicle collision but also the call by the victim?s family and friends to toughen up the state?s ?move over ? laws to protect safety workers on California?s roadsides. Outside the courtroom, Robinson?s parents, sister, friends and boss, stood firm in their resolve to turn 30-year-old Davey Robinson?s tragic death into a victory for safer conditions for highway workers, peace officers, firefighters, tow-truck drivers and other personnel who must stop to assist drivers. Black T-shirts emblazoned with Robinson's photo were in evidence during the North Auburn bail hearing. Robinson?s father, Dave Robinson Sr., said that he would have liked to see bail raised ? something the court did March 27, from $75,000. Defense attorney David Bonilla made a motion to allow Keller to live with the defendant?s father in Loomis wearing a GPS monitoring bracelet and remaining inside the house at all times. Bonilla also suggested that the bail amount revert to the initial $75,000, which would align with the already established amount for the charge. Deputy District Attorney Dave Tellman submitted the prosecution?s reasons for denial of bail, plus a letter from Robinson?s family. Garbolino read the District Attorney?s Office statement but said that he hadn?t read the family?s statement. ?I can?t imagine they would be disappointed by my ruling,? Garbolino responded, when Tellman mentioned the unread statement. Asked by reporters about Keller?s demeanor, Bonilla would only say: ?All parties acknowledge it?s a tragic event.? As well as hit-and-run, Keller is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter. Keller is also remanded in custody on a previous felony charge of possession of a controlled substance related to a March 12 arrest in Placer County. A conviction on that charge would put Keller in violation of probation on a ?wet reckless? sentence from September 2009. Wet reckless is a term for reckless driving with a blood-alcohol level of between 0.06 and 0.08 percent. Keller?s family were not apparently present at the hearing. Dave Robinson Sr. said it was important to keep Keller behind bars. ?He?s dangerous on the road ? and he has no respect for human life,? Robinson said. ?He left my son at the side of the road to die and hid out for five days. He told an officer and his roommate that he hit a deer. His family can still see their son (in jail) but we can?t. All we have is an urn.? Robinson added that he?s sorry for Keller?s family. ?But they should have helped him a long time ago,? Robinson said. Jeff Welch, owner of the younger Robinson?s employer, Golden State Towing of Sacramento, said that he had heard reports that the driver had stopped just west of Auburn immediately before his death to help a motorist. The last the business had heard, Robinson -a Citrus Heights resident - had completed a tow to Auburn and was on his way back down I-80, with a stop in Loomis for lunch, he said. Welch said roadside messages this week are displaying the ?Move Over-Stay Safe? mantra, which underscores a two-year-old law providing more protections for safety workers. That?s good, but there is more work to do, he said. ?It starts down at the basic level when people get their license,? Welch said. ?We need to drive the message across to kids, through signs on the highway, and a public awareness campaign.?