Bail reduced for suspect in fatal hit-and-run
A Central Point woman suspected of killing a forestry worker and injuring three others when she crashed her pickup into their van last month had her bail significantly reduced Tuesday.
Leta Schroeder, 34, was emotional during the bail hearing, during which public defender Justin Rosas argued that the $3 million bail imposed on her was excessive compared to those jailed on similar and even more serious crimes.
Schroeder faces charges of second-degree manslaughter — a Measure 11 offense with a minimum penalty of six years and three months in jail — reckless driving and four counts of hit-and-run.
Police allege Schroeder was driving drunk in the early-morning hours when she ran a red light on Crater Lake Highway.
She reportedly crashed her pickup into a van taking forestry workers to their job site.
The crash killed Efran Vargas-Urena, 23, of Medford and seriously injured three others. Arnulfo Anaya, 23, of Medford was admitted in critical condition at Providence Medford Medical Center. Dimas Rodriguez, 21, of Medford was admitted in serious condition at Providence. Thirty-seven-year-old Pedro Santana-Arriaga also was seriously injured.
Emergency officials said all four men were ejected from the van during the crash. Three other crew members walked away uninjured.
Schroeder reportedly fled the scene and was later found by Jackson County sheriff's deputies at a house in the 3700 block of Jane Ann Lane in White City.
Afterward, Schroeder appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court and was placed in jail on $3 million bail.
Rosas appealed to Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Bloom to reduce the bail, which would allow Schroeder to possibly attend alcohol and drug treatment programs until she sees trial.
Rosas said Schroeder would abide by all terms of her release, and she offered to take polygraph tests about her use of intoxicants. He said she was willing to return to jail if she was found to be using alcohol or drugs during her release.
Rosas asked Bloom to reduce bail to $50,000.
County prosecutor Nick Geil agreed that the $3 million bail imposed on Schroeder was excessive, but because Schroeder attempted to flee the scene, it showed that she has a tendency to escape culpability for her crime. He argued that she should be seen as a flight risk and be held on $150,000 bail.
Rosas countered by saying that she has a home in the area and all of her family lives nearby, including her husband, Richard Schroeder.
Richard Schroeder was among those injured in a 2008 Grayback helicopter crash that killed nine, including seven firefighters from Jackson and Josephine counties.
Richard Schroeder was a firefighter. He received a settlement, but the money is mostly gone, Rosas said.
Bloom sided with the prosecution and ordered Schroeder's bail to be reduced to $150,000. She remained lodged on this amount late Tuesday afternoon.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.