Shelley Lubben's Boyfriend Now Faces Mandatory Consecutive 5-Year Prison Term for Fleeing Crash Scene

Joe Valley, charged in a November 2017 DUI collision, remains unlikely to be able to plea bargain

Shelley Lubben, Valley's lover and owner of the car that struck and killed a 51-year-old cyclist, did not bother to attend Thursday's hearing 

Porterville, Calif. -- Joseph Valley, the live-in boyfriend of disgraced anti-porn crusader and minister Shelley Lubben, was back in Tulare County Superior Court Thursday morning, February 8, three months after he allegedly struck and killed a 51-year old cyclist less than 2 miles from the Lubben ranch property and fled the scene, according to witnesses.

Valley faces two felony charges -- Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated, and Hit And Run Driving -- in connection with the fatal collision.

Joe Valley Faces Prosecution For 'Serious Felony': Criminal Complaint
Joseph Valley. Courtesy: Tulare County Sheriff's Office

Thursday, Valley was re-arraigned in conjunction with an amended criminal complaint, which added the "Special Allegation" of Fleeing The Scene of the Crime. 

Under the California Vehicle Code, individuals who are convicted of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter who also fled the scene of the crash face a mandatory consecutive five-year state prison sentence. 

Prosecutors specifically allege a violation of subdivision (c) to ensure that they have provided a defendant adequate notice under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that he faces the mandatory consecutive five year term. (Thus, the "Special Allegation" in the Amended Complaint against Valley.)


Witnesses say Joe Valley was already intoxicated when he arrived at a local bar prior to the crash, and was cut off from ordering more alcohol before he allegedly ran down the cyclist while driving Shelley Lubben's car. 

Valley's mother, Christina, maintains that Lubben had been feeding Joe wine and prescription pills prior to the crash.

The hit-and-run collision occurred at Balch Park Road and Battle Mountain Road in Springville at around 4:40 p.m. on Nov. 7.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 27-year-old Valley hit the cyclist while driving a silver 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser with a convertible top. A witness at the scene saw Valley take off "up Balch Park Road to his house" after the collision. The cyclist died at the scene.

Valley, who has a prior criminal record, was booked later that night, and held on $100,000 bail. District Attorney Tim Ward later filed criminal charges against Valley, upping his bail to $145,000. Joe Valley is being held at the Adult Pre-Trial Facility in Visalia.

The charges were followed by Ward's announcement of a $153,620 California Office of Traffic Safety grant. The grant will be used to help prosecute cases of drunken and impaired drivers.

"No one should be injured or lose their lives due to the reckless and risky behavior of a drunk driver," said Ward. "We look forward to continuing our focus on prosecuting this dangerous and avoidable crime."

"I honestly think she [Shelley Lubben] was driving, always drinking and driving," Mrs. Valley said. She went on to say that she believes Joe may be taking the fall out of some sense of duty to the woman he believes loves him.

A 'serious felony'

The criminal complaint filed by the Tulare County district attorney charges Valley with felony hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious bodily injury to another person, as well as the 'serious felony' gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

The California Penal Code stipulates:

1192.7. (b) Plea bargaining in any case in which the indictment or information charges any serious felony, ... or any offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, or any other intoxicating substance, or any combination thereof, is prohibited....

1192.8. (a) For purposes of subdivision (c) of Section 1192.7, "serious felony" also means any violation of Section 191.5, paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192, subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of Section 192.5 of this code, or Section 2800.3, subdivision (b) of Section 23104, or Section 23153 of the Vehicle Code, when any of these offenses involve the personal infliction of great bodily injury on any person other than an accomplice. . . . 

In addition, the complaint against Valley states that "the People hereby put the defendant on notice that the aggravated sentence may be sought in this case." 

California's “three strikes” law significantly increases the prison sentences of persons convicted of a felony who have been previously convicted of two or more violent crimes or serious felonies. The law also limits the ability of these offenders to receive a punishment other than a life sentence.

Valley does indeed have a prior criminal record.

Shelley Lubben and Joe Valley met when her husband hired him to work at the Springville property in the spring of 2015. Shelley began an affair with Valley, and her husband later filed for divorce.

On Christmas Eve 2015, Lubben phoned 911 and reported that Valley had sexually assaulted and battered her. She later recanted the sexual assault claim, but Valley served 90 days for domestic battery in Porterville. Further charges by Lubben led to additional minor convictions for Valley.

In Porterville, Thursday, the court also held a brief pre-trial hearing on three probation violations stemming from his prior convictions. The terms of Valley probation(s) were violated by his DUI hit-and-run arrest last November 7.

Valley returns to Tulare County Superior Court March 1, at 8:30 a.m.  He is currently being held on bail.

UPDATE: Valley’s case has been continued to the morning of March 15, 2018.