Showing posts with label California Highway Patrol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California Highway Patrol. Show all posts

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.

Shelley Lubben's Boyfriend Arrested for Vehicular Manslaughter and DUI Near Their Home

Springville, Calif. -- Joseph Valley, the live-in boyfriend of disgraced anti-porn crusader Shelley Lubben, was arrested Tuesday Nov. 7 after he allegedly struck and killed a 51-year old cyclist less than 2 miles from the Lubben Ranch property.

He is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run driving, resulting in death or serious bodily injury to another person.

Shelley Lubben's Boyfriend Arrested for Vehicular Manslaughter and DUI Near Their Home
Joseph Valley. Courtesy: Tulare County Sheriff's Office
The hit-and-run collision occurred at Balch Park Road and Battle Mountain Road in Springville at around 4:40 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 27-year-old Valley hit the cyclist while driving a 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.

On Facebook, the witness claimed the car's "windshield had big spider web crack and [its] hood had big dent all on [the] drivers side."


Authorities initially asked for the public's help in locating the vehicle and its driver. The car had been described by the witness as a silver PT Cruiser which had suffered "front-end damage and was possibly missing the front bumper." However, CHP were able to catch up with and arrest Valley on suspicion of DUI and hit-and-run two hours after responding to the collision.

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. He 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."



District Attorney Tim Ward later filed criminal charges against Valley.  He was arraigned Nov. 9, and his bail was increased to $145,000. Valley is being held at the Adult Pre-Trial Facility in Visalia.


The filing of charges was 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." According to police, an unnamed 51-year old Visalia man was riding a Trek bicycle southbound on Black Park Rd., north of Yokohl Valley Rd.,when he was struck by a passing car. It was reported that Valley was driving northbound on Balch Park Rd. toward the Lubben Ranch. Valley approached a curve in the road and for unexplained reasons the PT Cruiser crossed the sold double-yellow lines and entered into southbound lanes before colliding with the bicyclist. 

Valley failed to stop and render aid, leaving the victim with fatal injuries. He then kept on going up the road.



The Balch Park area is a draw for local cyclists

The Porterville Recorder reported Nov. 9 that "CHP believes alcohol may have been a factor in this collision."

More details on the criminal case against Joe Valley will be forthcoming.

Valley will return to court for a preliminary hearing setting 8:30 a.m. Friday in Department 17 of the Tulare County Superior Court, South County Justice Center in Porterville. 

Below is the relevant section of the California Penal Code:

Vehicular Manslaughter 

Penal Code § 191.5.
 (a) Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the 
unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence. 

(b) Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, but without gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, but without gross negligence. 

(c) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (d), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for 4, 6, or 10 years. 
(2) Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in violation of subdivision (b) is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months or 2 or 4 years. 

(d) A person convicted of violating subdivision (a) who has one or more prior convictions of this section or of paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192, subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 192.5 of this code, or of violating Section 23152 punishable under Sections 23540, 23542, 23546, 23548, 23550, or 23552 of, or convicted of Section 23153 of, the Vehicle Code, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 15 years to life. Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 2930) of Chapter 7 of Title 1 of Part 3 shall apply to reduce the term imposed pursuant to this subdivision. 

(e) This section shall not be construed as prohibiting or precluding a charge of murder under Section 188 upon facts exhibiting wantonness and a conscious disregard for life to support a finding of implied malice, or upon facts showing malice consistent with the holding of the California Supreme Court in People v. Watson, 30 Cal. 3d 290. 

(f) This section shall not be construed as making any homicide in the driving of a vehicle or the operation of a vessel punishable which is not a proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony, or of the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner. 

(g) For the penalties in subdivision (d) to apply, the existence of any fact required under subdivision (d) shall be alleged in the information or indictment and either admitted by the defendant in open court or found to be true by the trier of fact.