Bales sentenced to more than six years for death of Morro Bay pastor

October 22, 2019

Emily Bales


A Los Osos woman who struck and killed a Morro Bay pastor while driving intoxicated was sentenced to state prison for six years and four months on Monday, though she could quickly be appearing before a parole board. [Tribune]

On Nov. 18, 2018, Emily Bales, 25, 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 the DUI resulting in death and one count of hit-and-run resulting in injury.

Then on Monday, San Luis Obispo Judge Craig van Rooyen sentenced Bales to six years and four months behind bars. Van Rooyen noted Bales’s sentencing enhancement for fleeing the scene alone equates to five years in prison.

But under state law, Bales will be eligible to go before a parole board after about one year, according to the district attorney’s office.

Pastor Dale Paulsen

During Monday’s sentencing hearing, Deputy District Attorney Danielle Baker said in a statement that Bales chose to leave Paulsen dead on the side of the road like an animal and her crimes were not just a terrible mistake.

However, Paulsen’s son, Andrew Paulsen, and sister, Lynne Paulsen, delivered a victim impact statement in which they said the family has forgiven Bales. Lynne Paulsen said she hopes Bales turns the catastrophe into something positive.

Dale Paulsen is survived by his widow, three sons and seven grandchildren, the family said in the statement.

Bales’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said his client met with Paulsen’s widow on Friday. The pastor’s widow previously filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bales, which was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount on Aug. 15.

A restitution hearing in the criminal case is scheduled for Jan. 27.

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If we are not going to punish people more harshly for this crime…a crime of manslaughter and willfully getting behind the wheel drunk and killing a man…then we should at least keep her from doing it again…a lifetime ban on driving privileges…every time she gets on a bus she will remember what she did….and we won’t have to worry about her doing this again…

You know, I actually agree with you, but a new law doesn’t guarantee she’ll adhere to it nor as the past has taught us it probably won’t act as a deterrent to any future offender.

I think it’s time we address this type of behavior long before it gets to this point, but that will take some effort as alcohol is as much a part of this countries culture as Monday Night Football, The World Series and Mom’s Apple Pie.

I also think that the whole disease concept of alcoholism/drug addiction is a huge hindrance to stopping this behavior as well; when you teach that you’re not in control of your actions because it’s an inherited trait, it’s a disease with no cure and that you have to turn it over to a “higher power” to control you remove all notions of self control, self determination and accountability. This concept is in fact one of the biggest motors that drives individuals who relapse.

Instead of being so reactive to this we should become more and more proactive, starting with our own actions and then with our kids…

Her family was able to pony up and pay Ilan for his ties with government, nothing to do with the facts of the case. If she were a poor Mexican good luck getting such an outcome. She paid for influence with government just like with developers pay consultants who have ties with government reviewing a project. Pure, open, pay-to-play corruption.

Has nothing to do with paying for ties, has everything to do with hiring the best, an attorney that is ethical in his dealings, and effective at his job.

First off, you’re right, a “Mexican” probably wouldn’t get this type of outcome but that has nothing to do with Ms. Bales “whiteness” but more to do with the perceived less than human condition of the “Mexican” that still is rampant in our justice system

And so what if the family could “pony up”? Thank god they could, as to afford their family member the best representation possible, that’s the way the justice system is suppose to work.

Do you have any proof of Ilan’s “government ties”? Or are you just repeating something fashionable here CCN. The only tie I could find even remotely related to government was his endorsement for judge by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, a Republican. Other than that, nada!.

Regardless of the legal cloak and dagger stuff…this woman KILLED a man. She got drunk and got behind the wheel. Then after she mowed him down she fled. I’m sorry, it’s impossible to feel the deep life long pain the family (and friends) will have to endure but if it was my dad, I’d be devastated with that sentence. We have laws for this kind of stuff but they seem to always get watered down….it’s tragic. She can definitely become a productive member of society, just a woman’s prison society.

Dan Dow first ran on rehabilitating criminals. Now all he wants is the maximum for everyone as if that helps society and not his need for vengeance and power. People who commit a crime, but are not usually criminals, are more likely to become law abiding citizens if they do not spend years in prison with the worst of society. Dow overcharges, and then tries to plead cases down. He permits his staff and law enforcement to withhold evidence and lie, anything to win. It should be about justice.

Why is he angry that Bales may become a productive member of society, something the victim’s family wants?

“But under state law, Bales will be eligible to go before a parole board after about one year, according to the district attorney’s office.” Wrong!

California has a determinate sentencing system for all those not sentence to a life top that precludes them from going in front the BPT (Board of Prison Terms). That means only those serving a sentence with a life sentence (other than those serving life without the possibility of parole) go to the board and only after serving the determinate part of their sentence, as in a 25 to life sentence with the 25 years being the determinate portion.

What this ADA probably means is that Ms. Bales is probably eligible for parole after about a year because of her time served in the county jail while awaiting the outcome of her case. If she was sentenced to 6 years 4 months then her sentence is translated into 2,310 days by CDCR, the court then deducts the “time served” plus any additional credits they deem proper and the rest is due to CDCR to enforce. So yea, maybe a year or so….

Do I have this right?

1. DUI

2. DUI caused a death

3. Texting while DUI

4. Fled the scene of the crime.

And she’s up for parole on a year? How is that possible? Female White Privilege?

I don’t care if the family forgave her, society is owed a debt, and we need deterrence.

No, no white female privilege, She received the maximum amount of time allowed by law for the crime she pled to.

Vehicular manslaughter, California Penal Code 192(c) PC , is punshible by 2, 4 or 6 years in prison, here aggravating circumstance of driving while drunk gave her the maximum sentence of 6 years, the 4 month enhancement came from her fleeing the scene.

Why is society owed a debt? A debt that will ultimately cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to collect, why? Does she need to be held accountable, hell yes! But why not in such a way as she pays society back for the cost of prosecuting her. The family of the victim has already sought and received relief form the civil courts so that combined with their forgiveness would show me that their need for justice has been satisfied. If Ms. Bales sentence and the settlement they reached is enough for them why isn’t it enough for you? You have no stake in this, why should it matter how you feel?

Deterrence through tougher laws and stiffer sentences is pure pacifying BS….

“Five Things About Deterrence” – National Institute of Justice

1. The certainty of being caught is a vastly more powerful deterrent than the punishment.

2. Sending an individual convicted of a crime to prison isn’t a very effective way to deter crime.

3. Police deter crime by increasing the perception that criminals will be caught and punished.

4. Increasing the severity of punishment does little to deter crime.

5. There is no proof that the death penalty deters criminals.

Excellent research ATF. You are spot on. But I’m afraid you’re wasting your time on this board. Most of the people on here have made up their minds already and facts just get in the way of their ideology.

So just release her on the spot, as there is no deterrence and penalties do not deter crime. Let’s just make drunk driving legal.

That’s not what was said nor implied by the article I supplied, not even close! There are very clear deterrence’s, but you’d know that if you had actually take a moment or two to read the article, which is evident you didn’t…

A year in prison for killing a guy while drunk, driving, and texting, then fleeing the scene? WTF? This woman has no reason to fear any consequences for her actions because of both the laws, her gender and her race. Even better that she killed a religious dude; greater chances of the family not supporting an apt punishment. If we had swift public executions of drunk drivers, no one would be getting killed by drunk drivers.

Swift public executions? Like Saudi Arabia, or Iraq, or Iran, or the likes of ISIS and most of the third world countries do? And of course that would include teenagers too, right? Yea that’ll fix everything, including the pesky Constitution and Bill of Rights that protects us from that kind of overzealous BS! And of course in your mind just the act of driving drunk, not killing someone in the process, just the act would be punishable by “swift public executions”?

I wonder jimmy_me if this isn’t a deflection of some sort of guilt on your part, maybe? I wonder if at some point in your life you could have blown a .05 or better and just didn’t get caught, that you deserved your own form of unjustifiable justice at least once in your life.

Kill, kill, kill! The answer to everything to those who have no answers to anything and would take the easy way out…

Maybe a couple of pallets full of Constitutions and Bill of Rights would have been enough to stop the truck from killing Pastor Paulsen.

Probably not…

Maybe the realization that alcohol is a drug (one that fits every aspect of a schedule 1 drug, that kills people at ten times the rate of all other drugs combined) and is far too easy to obtain and should be more stringently controlled would help stem this tide?

Maybe the realization we should revisit allowing the unfettered advertising of the likes of Coors Light, Jack Daniels or Remy Martin that glorifies this drug to not only acceptability but expectabilty in our country would help stem this tide?

Killin’ folks in the name of justice is unjustifiable, especially in a civilized society, especially in our society, a beacon of hope the rest of the world.

So alcohol advertisements are to blame?

It’s a factor, just like tobacco advertisements were to nicotine addiction, and they banned those, right? And to a small extent it has helped reduce the number of people addicted to that drug, right?

All I’m sayin is there are options and solutions outside of just arbitrarily killin’ folks, that’s all.

You’d be singing a different tune if it was your kid.

Probably not… Being seen as a hypocrite to your ideologies is far more shaming than asking for mercy for your child.

Sad isn’t it? When your political, religious or societal standing becomes more important than the life of a human being.

It’s the easy way out, plane and simple! You don’t have to look for the cause, you don’t have to accept the effect and you don’t have to look for ways to change it, you just kill it!

They are penalties, not deterrences.

We lock criminals up to slow down the toll their criminal activities take on society. Lock up thieves and the theft rate goes down. Lower theft rates equals fewer insurance claims which result in insurance rates remaining stable for property and business owners. Crooks are not deterred by the fear of jail, they are deterred by being in jail.

The death penalty Is just that, a penalty. It is not intended as a deterrence. If you are convicted of 1st degree murder with special circumstances (kidnap, torture, etc.) the state takes your life as your punishment. Now I don’t personally care if we execute murderers or lock them away for the rest of their lives, just keep them away from my family and friends.