BEND, OR -- The Alfalfa woman convicted of killing a local dentist in 2017 has filed an appeal. A judge found Shantel Witt guilty of first degree Manslaughter, in February. Prosecutors say Witt had several drugs in her system - including Xanax prescribed to her dog - when she drove her SUV into a group of bicyclists, east of Bend, in December 2017. Marika Stone was was pronounced dead at the scene. Witt was sentenced to 12 years in prison an ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution to Stone's family.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel says Witt has nothing to lose by asking the Appeals Court to review her case, "I think the theory is, why not try; right? If all the Court of Appeals can do is say, 'We rule against you,' that's the worst case scenario. The best case scenario for a defendant is the Court of Appeals might say, 'We reverse your conviction.' So, there's really no downside, and there's a heck of a lot of upside."
Hummel says Witt didn't plead guilty to any major charges, which means she has more options, "She can appeal the finding of guilt, she can say there was an error made at trial and so the finding of guilt should be reversed; she can also say, 'the sentence I received was unlawful and you need to reduce the sentence.' So, she is legally able to raise both issues." Hummel believes the prosecution will stand up to scrutiny, "I'm confident in the integrity of this conviction. I'm not aware of any meritorious legal arguments her attorney will be able to present, so I'm confident that after the Court of Appeals reviews the case, they will uphold the conviction." He tells KBND News, "We didn't see any legal issues where we were like, 'this is a close call, here.' We thought everything was straightforward, by-the-book, and so we're confident that we'll prevail on appeal."
The State Attorney General's office represents the state on appeals, but Hummel says his office will consult and confer with them throughout the case.