Los Osos woman pleads to manslaughter

September 27, 2019

Emily Bales

A Los Osos woman who struck and killed a Morro Bay pastor while driving intoxicated reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that will result in her going to prison, though possibly for a just a fraction of the more than six years behind bars she is expected to receive as her sentence. [Tribune]

On Nov. 18, 2018, 24-year-old Emily Bales was driving drunk on Ramona Avenue in Los Osos when she struck and killed Pastor Dale Paulsen of the Morro Bay Presbyterian Church, who was taking a walk.

Hours before his death, Paulsen announced to his congregation that he planned on retiring.

Before getting behind the wheel and attempting to drive home, Bales was drinking with friends at a bar. Bales was texting, in addition to driving drunk, when the crash occurred, according to court testimony.

Following the crash, Bales fled the scene.

On Sept. 18, Bales pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence but with a sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene of the crash. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dismissed two charges related to DUI resulting in death and one count of hit-and-run resulting in injury.

Bales is expected to receive a state prison sentence of six years and four months for her conviction and enhancement. The enhancement alone equates to five years behind bars.

But Bales’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said a new voter-approved law will allow Bales to be eligible for parole in eight months.

Paulsen, a resident of Los Osos, delivered weekly sermons on Sundays at Morro Bay Presbyterian. Paulsen was going to retire from the church after serving as its pastor for nearly 24 years.

The pastor’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bales, which was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount on Aug. 15. The two women have decided to meet one another in private before Bales’ sentencing hearing, Funke-Bilu said.

Funke-Bilu said the meeting between Bales and Paulsen’s widow is expected to be a tearful gathering of families.

Bales’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 21.


It is a sign of the times that enraged comments about a needlessly shot to death dog outnumber a drunk driver kills pedestrian comments 10 to 1. Where is the indignation for people killers??? This woman got away with murder.


Is Cal poly going to award her an honorary degree? They tend to do that with drunk drivers who kill upstanding people in the community.


So if you ever want to kill someone and you’re pretty sure you’re too dumb to get away with it, drink a fifth of vodka, get in your car, and run the person down. Eight months of free room and board will pass unimaginably fast.


It is clear that if you hire Ilan you get off, and I’m guessing it is not cheap. What is not clear is the arrangement within the DA’s office that facilitates this.


Lenny Jones wasn’t so lucky.

Niles Q

Eight months? Are you kidding me!?! I hope this woman realizes how easy she is getting off. Next thing you know, she’ll be spending her time in a private, 4-star jail


I cannot fathom why the criminal justice system doesn’t have a set sentence for killing people when drunk, texting, or in this case both. 25-30 for starters…. What kind of “deal” have the victim and his family gotten? Anybody remember them? California legislature is a group of lunatics… We have two choices; continue to let them plunder and destroy the rule of law and common sense, or collectively get so outraged that we set our ire to action.


Well here’s another fine example of “do the crime, do the time” There goes any major deterent for drunk drivers in the future. Nicely done district attorney’s office. Bet that really does wonders for the grieving family and friends.


Keep in mind that SLO co has a DA that is a Bastion of the moraless, alcohol drenched,dope smoking babylonian hole SLO co has become. Pretty telling why the punishment is so little in that we dont want to discourage anyone from conducting all important social media communications, gotta make sure everyone knows you just farted, and indulging in the free spirited lifestyle your turd politicians have fought so hard to create for you.