The prayers of family and friends of Robert Lavender III have finally been answered, nearly a year after the motorcyclist nicknamed “Chance Daily” was killed in a Fullerton crash police blamed on an alleged drunken driver.
Medical assistant Deanna Marie Soto, 40, of Huntington Beach, was re-arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence and felonious driving while impaired in the June 21, 2014, crash that killed Lavender, a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, according to Fullerton Police Sgt. Kathryn Hamel.
Soto was making a left turn at West Walnut Avenue and South Lemon Street just after 1:50 a.m. when her Nissan Sentra collided with 29-year-old Carson resident Lavender's Harley Davidson. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and three people in Soto's car were hospitalized.
Initially booked into Orange County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond for suspected vehicular manslaughter and felony driving under the influence, Soto was later released when the Orange County District Attorney's office kicked the case back to Fullerton Police for further investigation. A police spokesman called this “common” because test results may not be in before a 72-hour deadline to file formal charges against a suspect.
But in the weeks and months that followed Soto's release, some of Lavender's loved ones feared she was escaping justice because of her looks. One posted this on Instagram:
For the past 11 months, supporters kept heat on the investigation through a public memorial in Fullerton's Lemon Park and the “Justice for Chance Daily” Facebook page, which asked more than 1,100 fans to write letters to the Fullerton Police Department.
On Friday, an Orange County Register headline about Soto's arrest was posted on “Justice for Chance Daily” with a one-word caption.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.