[UPDATED with Lawyer-Father's Complaint:] Kurt Duncan Naegele Cuts Plea Deal in Fatal DUI Crash Near Hearst Castle
UPDATE, MAY 22, 3:40 P.M.: It's safe to say Timothy D. Naegele has juice. He was chief of staff to former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) and counsel to the United States Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. His Timothy D. Naegele & Associates firm, which specializes in law involving banking, financial institutions and the Internet, has offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. But a civil case occupying his time currently involves his son, who just accepted a plea deal for a 2009 DUI car crash near Hearst Castle that killed one and injured two others.
Newport Beach's Kurt Duncan Naegele is expected to get five years of probation and a year in either jail or home detention at his July 6 sentencing. But Timothy Naegele still claims his son was not behind the wheel of the Range Rover that rolled into a ditch, something he's still fighting in a Paso Robles courtroom.
Here is the attorney's email to me:
As I am sure you can understand, there were no "winners" on the night of September 18, 2009, at the Hearst Ranch when the tragic accident happened. Darren Dahlman was killed and his life can never be replaced. My son Kurt, Chris Pennell and Ryan Doheny were injured, but have survived.
However, the facts of that night are clear, based on DNA and other evidence; and they cannot be distorted. Ryan Doheny killed Darren Dahlman. Kurt Naegele was not the driver of the vehicle when the tragic accident happened.
Indeed, the facts remain exactly as set forth in the Amended Complaint, which is attached hereto. Also, Doheny's prior accident in Pasadena--where he left a vehicle under very similar circumstances, and climbed a tree to evade arrest, and then accosted an officer--is described there in some detail. And there is other evidence of his wrongdoing as well.
At no time has Kurt Naegele admitted that he was driving the car at the time of the accident. He pled nolo contendere (or "no contest") for reasons that are totally unrelated to guilt. For example, he has a young family; and he could not take even a one percent chance of spending years in prison.
Once again, the facts remain exactly as set forth in the Amended Complaint that I filed on his behalf.
Thank you for your attention to the foregoing.
Timothy D. Naegele
Attorney at Law
Timothy D. Naegele & Associates
Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles
Click below for the amended complaint he speaks of:
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 18, 8:14 A.M.: Remember Kurt Duncan Naegele, the Newport Beach man who won a mistrial in the case of a 2009 DUI car crash near Hearst Castle that killed one and injured two others when it was announced just after jury selection in November that evidence would point to someone other than Naegele being the driver?
Before a July 6 sentencing date in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Naegele cut a plea deal for five years of probation and a year in either jail or home detention.
It's quite a turnaround since not only did Naegele's attorneys, Eugene Harris and lawyer-to-the-stars Mark Geragos, allege in open court that Ryan Robert Doheny was behind the wheel that fateful September 2009 night, but they sued the Los Angeles resident and the Hearst Corp. for failing to disclose people race cars on the airstrip where the crash happened.
"The whole case turned upside down when the driver and good friend of mine realized I was the only witness because my brother-in-law was killed and my other good friend was in a coma for a month and had no recall," writes Doheny in an email. "This is when [Naegele] turned on me and said I was driving. This caused me to have massive panic attacks, sleepless nights, loss of friends, heavy drinking and loads of prescription drugs to keep me sane."
According to the California Highway Patrol, Naegele, Doheny, Doheny's brother-in-law Darren William Dahlman, 38, of Pasadena, and Christopher H. Pennell, 40, of Los Angeles, had been drinking as guests invited to a birthday party on the San Simeon ranch Sept. 18, 2009.
They drove to the airstrip to find out how fast Naegele's Range Rover could go, something a CHP investigator claims Doheny later told him was a bad idea because it was pitch black out and Naegele was driving very fast and erratically. Around 11 p.m., the Range Rover rolled several times before falling down a steep embankment 300 feet off the runway on the north side of the airstrip.
The crash killed Dahlman, seriously injured Naegele (who had to be extricated from behind the steering wheel) and also injured Pennell and Doheny. Naegele and Doheny estimated to officers that they had been traveling 35 mph at the time of the crash, but CHP investigators who examined the skid marks and other evidence at the scene determined they were going more like 105 mph.
Doheny also claimed that Naegele, the Range Rover's registered owner, was behind the wheel. His blood-alcohol level later tested at about 0.16 percent--twice the legal limit. Beer cans were found strewn about the vehicle, according to court documents.
Naegele was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and two sentencing enhancements. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. But after Harris and Geragos announced an expert witness would testify that Naegele was not the actual driver, Judge Michael Duffy declared a mistrial.
They had already filed a motion to impeach Doheny's testimony for lack of credibility, writing, "the defense theory of the case is that Mr. Doheny also moved Mr. Naegele's body into the driver's position, to hide the fact that he (Mr. Doheny) had been driving the vehicle at the time of the collision." The defense also brought up a past Doheny conviction for drunken driving, claiming he'd fled the scene of an accident while hammered.
Duffy denied the motion, according to the San Luis County District Attorney's office, but because prosecutor Matthew Kerrigan had not received within a required 30 days a notice from the defense that a new opposition witness would be called, the judge declared the mistrial.
Despite justice finally swinging in his favor, Doheny remains scarred from the physical, emotional and legal tolls.
"I saved Kurt's life while in tremendous pain and after managing to get my dead friend off of me after we flew 300 feet off a cliff at Hearst Castle," he writes. "I saved a life, and he turned around to destroy mine because he was a coward. This tore my family and most of my relationships apart."
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