Jury rules Los Osos man did not drive high in fatal crash

March 31, 2017

A San Luis Obispo County jury found a Los Osos man not guilty of four felony counts this week related to allegations he was high on spice when he crashed his car, killing two passengers and injuring two others. The jury found Tanner Mengore, 24, guilty of one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter.

Mengore had been charged with two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for the deaths of 22-month-old Mason Simmonds-Gibson and 17-year-old Simon Brito. The judge instructed the jurors that they could also  find Mengore guilty of three lesser charges on each manslaughter count.

On Thursday, jurors convicted Mengore of vehicular manslaughter in the death of the toddler, but deadlocked on the count pertaining to the death of the teenager. The jury hung 7-5 in favor of guilty on the second count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

Mengore was also charged with child endangerment and driving while under the influence of drugs causing injury. The jury acquitted Mengore of both charges.

On Oct. 25, 2014, Mengore drove his four passengers, three of whom were siblings, to a smoke shop in Cambria to buy spice, a synthetic marijuana. CHP investigators alleged Mengore smoked spice prior to losing control of his SUV on Highway 1 in Cayucos and causing the fatal crash.

Following the crash, the grandmother of the toddler who died said the adults in the vehicle were addicted to spice.

During trial, Mengore took the stand and testified that he took a hit of spice about 30 minutes before driving, but he did not feel any effects. Defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu pointed to low THC levels in Mengore’s blood, while prosecutors said the blood sample was taken three hours after the crash.

Mengore is scheduled to return to court on April 14 for a hearing addressing sentencing and the count on which jurors deadlocked. He faces up to one year in jail, but Funke-Bilu plans to argue for probation and no jail time.

“The jury found as a matter of law that this young man was not under the influence,” Funke-Bilu said. “I have always believed in Tanner. He has always maintained his innocence and that he was not under the influence of anything.”

In a separate case, the mother of the toddler killed in the 2014 crash sued Paradise Smoke Shop in Cambria over the spice it allegedly sold to Mengore. The lawsuit has yet to go to trial.


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mkaney

It’s pretty important here to understand that “spice” does NOT contain THC and that its effects last a grand total of about 15 minutes. Don’t believe the hype. Law enforcement has no idea what they’re talking about here, which is just mind boggling to me and it should be concerning to you either.


mkaney

correction: last words should be “as well” not “either” :)


Pelican1

“He faces up to one year in jail, but Funke-Bilu plans to argue for probation and no jail time.”

You sir are an insult to the American judicial system and the notion of personal responsibility for one’s actions. Have you no morals?


Kaiser Bill

Funke-Bilu is doing his job as a defense attorney. The question you should be asking is why the DA’s office led by Dan Dow and Lee Cunningham are so incompetent. They’ve dealt with Funke-Bilu and his tactics for over 30 years. The DA should be able to win these cases if they meet the criteria for the crimes they charge against Funke-Bilu’s clients. Yet Funke-Bilu has repeatedly beat them.


Maybe its time for Dan Dow and Lee Cunningham to go. But hey, at least Lee Cunningham got his son Jordan a job at the DA’s office so he could parlay it into a political career.


Pelican1

Doing one’s “job” does not exempt him from having a lack of morals or conscience.

Clearly it’s about the MONEY AND NOTORIETY he makes taking on thee cases.


Kaiser Bill

You’re making some moral grandstanding argument about defense attorneys, who will take just about any case provided their client pays them. That is American jurisprudence and it’s not going to change. Meanwhile, back in the real world, we have an incompetent SLO County DA’s office that is a good ole boy network bereft with nepotism.


Pelican1

“You’re making some moral grandstanding argument about defense attorneys, who will take just about any case provided their client pays them.”

And there in lies the issue of morality or lack there of…. fact, not fiction, nor is it grandstanding..simply a sad reality.


MrYan

Personally, I’d like my lawyer to check his morals at the door, but not his ethics or his creativity.


Nor similarly would I want my pharmacist or doctor giving me care based on his or her morals. I’d prefer they check them at the door too. Their view of morality has no place in deciding if I need a medication or not.


I am sure Mr. Funke-Bilu has morals–we all do. They may not mirror yours though. You just assume he lacks them.


But as a professional he does not allow for them to interfere with his job.


Most likely your expressed inability to separate your personal moral-code from your decision making processes about the law would mean Mr. Funke-Bilu would be smart enough to strike you from any jury he would participate in seating.


panflash

” Defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu…”


That’s all I needed to see to explain this verdict. He could have gotten Hitler off from any and all charges.


BTW, if you ever have any question about the efficacy of the American judicial system or the intelligence of the average American, just serve on a jury sometime.


circlingthedrain

The average intelligence of Americans is so frightening — the prospect is terrifying. However, this sets a precedence. With marijuana legal, we must stick to a certain measure of “under the influence” (or not) as we do with alcohol. There needs to be a dividing line somewhere. And while this is tragic and very sad, the toxicology numbers tell the story.


kayaknut

Let the civil cases begin, and the only winners will be the lawyers


ziva

He’s White, and the others are Hispanic. I don’t see how they can sue. It was the family’s primary responsibility to put the child in a carseat (as much as it was the driver). Common sense tells you to buckle up your nephew. They were all high. I wouldn’t give them a penny.