The trial for a 48-year-old woman accused of driving drunk in a fatal Pasco crash has been delayed two weeks while her lawyer tries to negotiate a plea deal.
Lori Ann Christensen of Kennewick briefly appeared Tuesday in Franklin County Superior Court.
Her attorney, Bob Thompson, said he made a counteroffer to Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn, but the Prosecutor's Office has been tied up with other matters in the past week and couldn't get to this case.
Additionally, Hultgrenn told the court that an "essential witness" for the state will be on vacation during the scheduled trial date.
So Judge Craig Matheson agreed to push it back two weeks to March 7, noting that there is a possibility it will settle before then.
Christensen is charged with vehicular homicide in the Sept. 24, 2010, death of Orlando Abarca-Rivera.
The charge alleges she drove "under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or in a reckless manner, which was the proximate cause of injury" to Abarca-Rivera.
Christensen was behind the wheel of a car when it slammed head-on into another car, driven by Abarca-Rivera. She had just pulled out of the Motel 6 parking lot onto Oregon Avenue and crossed the center line, according to police and court documents.
Abarca-Rivera, 35, of Pasco, died in the 5:30 a.m. crash.
Christensen reportedly was late for work delivering newspapers for her husband, who was an independent contractor for the Tri-City Herald.
She told police that she had consumed a couple of beers the night before, while a firefighter at the scene reported smelling alcohol on her, documents said.
Christensen is in the Franklin County jail on $200,000 bail.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org