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Prosecutors ask for more time in fatal Highway 12 crash case

Prosecutors said Friday they still were awaiting toxicology results to help them decide what charges to bring against a Rohnert Park man accused of being high on pot and using his cellphone when he caused the crash a week ago that killed two women.

A nervous-appearing Nicholas Lee Tognozzi, 30, made his first court hearing after the Saturday afternoon crash that killed Sharon Hufford, 74, and her daughter-in-law, Susan Hufford, 53, both of Santa Rosa.

He was out on $100,000 bail after his arrest by CHP officers on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs causing death.

But prosecutor Diana Gomez told Judge Julie Conger the results of a urine test were not back from the state Department of Justice and asked for more time to consider charges.

Gomez said later in the hallway the presence of marijuana could make the difference between misdemeanor allegations carrying a short jail term and more serious felonies that could result in a lengthy prison sentence.

"We're asking to expedite it given the nature of the charges," Gomez said outside court. "From that we'll know what, if anything, we'll charge."

The next court date is April 17.

Tognozzi declined to comment as he left court with family members. His lawyer, Matthew Freeman, acknowledged what he called a tragedy.

"Everybody is sympathetic to the families," Freeman said before walking away.

The crash happened about 5:30 p.m. Saturday as the women and their husbands were stopped at a red light on Highway 12 at Farmers Lane. The four were on their way to dinner.


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