Joe Valley Pleads No Contest But Questions Remain About Shelley Lubben's Involvement in Fatal DUI Crash

Porterville, Calif -- Joe Valley was brought into Tulare County Superior Court Friday morning, Sept. 28, 2018, with a white short-sleeved v-neck shirt over his county jail orange top, and his hands shackled to a chain around his waist. He grinned slightly at the sight of his mother who was seated in the courtroom, but did not immediately react to the presence of his girlfriend, anti-porn crusader Shelley Lubben.

Joe Valley


Lubben, who had missed Valley's last court date, was seated in the back row of the Department 17 courtroom, alongside her local barfly friend Jana Hougen, and a shaven-headed stocky male mutual friend known as 'Taz' who had arrived at the courthouse after the two women. The bloated Mrs. Lubben, her hair white and wearing glasses, looked at least a decade older than the photographs she publishes online.

Valley had recently changed his plea from Not Guilty in the hit-and-run drunk driving death of cyclist Octavio Munguia, to a plea of No Contest. His new plea accepted by the court, he now stood convicted of Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated and Leaving the Scene of an Accident. 



At the time Valley's new plea was accepted,  Judge Michael B. Sheltzer indicated that a nine-year prison sentence would be in order, subject to modification by the presence of any mitigating or aggravating factors in the case.

Judge Sheltzer is the same judge who dismissed Shelley Lubben's trumped up charges against her ex-husband, Garrett, in February 2017.



Friday's court appearance had been slated as a sentencing hearing, so the family of the victim were in attendance with written Impact Statements to be read into the record. However, Joe Valley's Public Defender asked the court if Valley could read a short statement first, and the judge permitted it.

Looking pale but composed, Valley apologized for his actions, and claimed that the day he ran down Mr. Munguia was a "blur" to him. 

Valley's apology was not accepted by the members of Munguia's family, including his wife of 30 years and his younger brother. Their heartbreaking statements moved many in the courtroom to tears, but it was something the victim's brother said that generated an unusual reaction in the room.

Addressing Valley directly, the moment the victim's brother mentioned Valley's "toxic relationship" with Shelley Lubben which had been marked by substance abuse and domestic violence, Lubben stood up and dragged her two companions out of the courtroom, never to return.

Having ostensibly come to learn her boyfriend's fate, Lubben instead fled when her name came up in a negative light -- without learning Valley's sentence!

Aggravating factors


Following the family's statements, which were added into the court record, Judge Sheltzer announced that he would need time to consider the fact that there had been no mitigating factors in the case but several aggravating ones: Valley was on probation at the time of the crash; his probation performance "had been unsatisfactory"; and Valley had failed to stop and render aid to Mr. Munguia or even call 911 to seek help for the man who lay dying on the side of the road because of him.

Judge Sheltzer re-scheduled sentencing in the case for 8:30 am on Oct. 12, and assured the victim's family that under no circumstances would the sentence be any less than nine years, but possibly more after his research on sentencing in similar cases had been completed.



On May 18, 2018, Shelley Lubben (seen here with Joe Valley in 2016) turned 50 years old. Hers was one of the most turbulent and dare I say corrosive half-centuries in the life of any modern-day public figure.


Questions still remain


Joe Valley's No Contest plea obviated the need for a criminal trial, and with no testimony to be heard by the court, we may never know the full story of exactly what happened on Nov. 7, 2017.



What we do know is that Joe Valley drank at a local bar, The Antlers Roadhouse, some time before the fatal collision with Mr. Munguia, and that witnesses state Valley was already intoxicated when he arrived in his car. It was after he left that his car ran down Munguia.

But Valley told Highway Patrol investigators he had been drinking at a nearby lake earlier that day, and made no mention of visiting The Antlers.

Could there be anything else Valley left out?

Following the fatal collision, Valley's 2005 PT Cruiser was driven straight home to the property on Balch Park Road where he resided with Lubben. Shortly after his wrecked vehicle returned to the Lubben Ranch, Shelley Lubben got behind the wheel of her Jeep and drove off the property alone.

Lubben then flagged down a neighbor, and told the woman that she was her "witness" that Lubben was leaving home at that time, and then drove off.

This struck the neighbor as odd, and she told an investigator for the victim's family that Shelley Lubben was intoxicated and looked like she hadn't showered in days at the time she flagged her down.

Highway Patrol officers arrested Valley on Lubben's ranch property, and took him to jail. But because Lubben had already left, they were initially unable to interview her.

It wasn't until the following morning that Highway Patrol got a statement from Shelley Lubben -- under circumstances that were objectively suspicious.

It turned out that Mrs. Lubben's iPhone was in the car that killed Octavio Munguia. 

The presence of Lubben's cell phone in the vehicle was discovered after the wrecked PT Cruiser had been brought to Wallace Towing on Orange Belt Drive in Porterville.

It was there that Shelley Lubben was interviewed by the California Highway Patrol, when she came to retrieve her iPhone on November 8.

If Shelley Lubben -- who a witness stated was intoxicated at the time of Mr. Munguia's death -- hadn't been in the vehicle, then what was her cell phone doing in the car that killed Mr. Munguia?

Now that Joe Valley has pleaded No Contest to Gross Vehicular Manslaughter, we may never know the answer.

UPDATE: Eyewitnesses confirm that after leaving the courthouse, where Joe Valley stood condemned due due to a devastating death caused by drinking, Shelley Lubben, Jana Hougen and their friend Taz retired to The Antlers for drinks.