Wife of Sonoma County sheriff waives preliminary hearing in DUI case

Natasha Whittinghill-Engram was involved in a crash May 20 and is charged with two counts related to driving under the influence.|

The wife of Sonoma County Sheriff Eddie Engram appeared in court Tuesday and waived her right to a preliminary hearing scheduled for Friday in her DUI case.

Preliminary hearings allow a judge to hear evidence and decide whether a defendant should stand trial. Friday’s would have offered insight into Natasha Whittinghill-Engram’s May 20 crash in Santa Rosa.

“It’s a procedural hearing we didn’t need to have,” her defense attorney, Marty Woods, said following Tuesday’s brief appearance in Sonoma County Superior Court in Santa Rosa.

Whittinghill-Engram is scheduled to return to court Feb. 16 to be arraigned on her two felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury and driving with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08% causing injury.

The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office filed charges June 30, and Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Troye Shaffer has overseen proceedings.

On May 20, Whittinghill-Engram crashed into a home at Beaumont Way and Calistoga Road in Rincon Valley in northeast Santa Rosa.

Prosecutors allege she had a blood alcohol content of 0.2% or higher — more than twice the legal limit.

According to the Santa Rosa Police Department, Whittinghill-Engram drove a Tesla that went over a curb, through a fence and into the corner of the home occupied by a couple.

One of them, Lori Johnson, said she suffered cuts and bruises after the collision sent debris flying into her living room, where she had been sitting on a couch watching television.

Her husband was asleep in another room and was not injured.

Whittinghill-Engram did not suffer significant injuries in the crash.

Neighbors said Eddie Engram arrived at the scene minutes after the crash and spoke to his wife before keeping his distance while Santa Rosa police investigated.

The next morning, he issued a statement via his official Facebook page as sheriff, expressing concern for his wife and for Johnson.

She was arrested and court records show she was released May 22 after posting $100,000 bail.

You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @colin_atagi

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