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A Santa Rosa woman charged with murder in a deadly crash that police say happened while she was chasing her boyfriend on his motorcycle is suspected of conspiring with the man for a way to explain her actions.

Search warrant documents obtained Wednesday recount Heather Anne Howell, 28, talking on her cellphone to Charles "Tony" Kraus, 45, while she was being treated in an ambulance at the scene of the July 14 crash on Hall Road in west Santa Rosa.

With the smoldering wreck containing the body of Jesse Garcia, 56, of Santa Rosa nearby, Howell looked at Kraus through the ambulance window and said, "Keep your story straight," according to the documents prepared by Sonoma County Sheriff's Detective Michael Moriarty.

Paramedics who overheard the conversation reported Howell asked Kraus, "What did you tell them already?" and implored him not to say anything because "my uncle is an attorney," Moriarty wrote.

After interviewing Howell and Kraus, who Moriarty described as reluctant to talk, the detective concluded the couple shared responsibility for what happened.

"I suspect the two were conspiring to come up with a reasonable explanation for erratic driving," Moriarty wrote. "Although Howell caused this collision by colliding with the fatality victim's vehicle, both Howell and Kraus have combined culpability."

So far, prosecutors have charged only Howell. She is accused of second-degree murder and reckless driving and remains in jail. She is due in court Friday to enter a plea.

Kraus is described as a victim in court papers. His name is blacked out in the documents, but he was previously identified as Howell's boyfriend and the rider of the motorcycle.

Deputy District Attorney Anne Masterson on Wednesday wouldn't say whether Kraus will be charged at some point and declined to discuss details of the case, citing the investigation.

"It wouldn't be appropriate to comment on any of the evidence," Masterson said.

According to the court documents, witnesses said the crash happened as Howell chased Kraus in her black Acura at speeds of more than 100 mph, running red lights and changing lanes into oncoming traffic.

Howell was described as "laughing" by one witness. Another said her car "caught air" over a bump in the road.

Other witnesses said it appeared Howell was trying to hit Kraus' Harley-Davidson motorcycle, the records state.

She is suspected of clipping a Lexus on Hall Road near Irwin Lane before rear-ending Garcia's Triumph sports car, causing it to overturn and burst into flames.

The pursuit, which covered about five miles, appeared to stem from a domestic violence-related incident between Howell and Kraus, the CHP said.

Howell and Kraus told detectives they had been visiting Howell's mother in the hospital earlier in the day, according to the search warrant document.

They returned to Howell's Hartman Lane home and got in an argument about Kraus seeing an ex-girlfriend, Howell told detectives.

She said Kraus took off on his motorcycle and she followed, thinking he was returning to the hospital. Kraus said only that Howell began following him and tried to hit him.

"She could have killed me!" he was reported to have told investigators.

A search of Howell's Acura turned up 2.3 grams -- less than a tenth of an ounce -- of dried marijuana. A toxicology report on Howell is pending. Detectives also seized her cellphone to determine if she was using it at the time of the crash, court documents said.

Paramedics Joseph Hanley and Jeremy Robinson told deputies Howell was using a phone while seated in the ambulance. They believed she was talking to Kraus because he was standing outside the window with his cellphone to his ear, looking at Howell.

At one point in the conversation, Howell appeared to acknowledge the trouble she was in.

"I'm so screwed," paramedics overheard Howell say. "I'm going to jail."

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com.

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