North County Judge Rogelio Flores found Nick Coronado, the embattled former technician with the Department of Justice’s Santa Barbara blood-alcohol testing lab, in contempt of court and ordered Coronado to pay defense attorney Darryl Genis $2,000.
Genis had called Coronado as a witness in the trial of Benjamin Bettencourt — accused of causing of the death of Jennifer Clark while driving drunk in 2012 — and Coronado failed to appear as ordered by Judge Flores. Prosecutors claim that Bettencourt was driving with a blood-alcohol level of .08 — the legal limit for intoxication — when he lost control of his van.
Coronado conducted the lab analysis on Bettencourt’s blood after the accident and Genis claims he contaminated it. Based on evidence Genis unearthed in other DUI trials, he discovered Coronado’s superiors at the lab had issued him poor job evaluations and reprimands.
Genis hoped to introduce evidence of Coronado’s spotty job history to discredit the blood-alcohol analysis performed on his client. Genis has also argued that the District Attorney’s Office knew of this history and should have disclosed it. Genis contends Clark — who had a blood-alcohol three times the legal limit when she died — grabbed the steering wheel while sitting in the passenger’s seat of the car she was riding in.