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Woman accused of driving car into train returns to court

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Christine Leach

Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:03 am, Tue Nov 1, 2011.

A woman who police say drove her car into a train in Downtown Lodi with her 5-year-old in the back seat earlier this month was back in court on Monday.

Lodi resident Christine Leach, 42, is facing charges that include attempted willful murder and child endangerment of her 5-year-old daughter. Police said she drove her white Chevrolet Malibu into a Union Pacific train heading north on Oct. 7.

Defense attorney Gregory Davenport said the case is still in the preliminary stage, and he has no update on the condition of Leach’s daughter, who was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center after the accident.

He has hired private investigator Craig Williams to gather information and piece together the details of what happened, including why or how she drove the car into the train.

“Everything I’ve seen indicates to me that she never intended to drive into the train. This was not a conscious choice,” Davenport said.

According to police, Leach was stopped behind the crossing bars on East Pine Street in her car, waiting for a Union Pacific train to pass. Police said she then pulled out from a line of cars waiting on East Pine Street, stepped on the gas, and drove into the train.

Leach was in court for further arraignment, but it was postponed until Nov. 14 to allow her attorney to find out more information on the case. She did not speak, but did smile at some audience members.

Davenport asked the judge to release Leach’s wallet from the Lodi Police Department to a specific person to pay for daily cost of living expenses.

At a hearing on Oct. 12, Leach asked to be released from custody, but Judge Lauren Thomasson said she believed that Leach was a possible flight risk and a danger to herself and to society.

Thomasson agreed to set Leach’s bail at $1 million, per the request of Deputy District Attorney Angela Hayes, the prosecutor in the case. Thomasson also signed a criminal protective order, which mandated that Leach remain at least 100 yards away from her child at all times.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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