Showing posts with label Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gross Vehicular Manslaughter. 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 gal pal, and a shaven-headed stocky male mutual friend known as Taz Graves 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.

A blood draw revealed Valley’s blood alcohol content at .26 percent, the District Attorney’s Office said. That was more than three times the legal limit of .08 percent.

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.

A United Parcel Service driver discovered Mr. Muguia in the road. After witnesses reported seeing a PT Cruiser with a broken windshield and significant front end damage, the UPS driver directed law enforcement to a nearby house where a PT Cruiser was normally parked: the Lubben Ranch.

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 and her friends retired to The Antlers for cocktails.

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.