Trial set in Tongans’ death case 

A trial date has been set for March 19 in the case of 18-year-old Edith Delgado, accused of speeding her Mustang and causing a gruesome crash that killed two members of the Tongan royal family and one of their aides.

The three people were killed in a sport utility vehicle that rolled over several times after being sideswiped by Delgado’s car that was exceeding 85 mph and "dangerously" switching lanes, prosecutors say. The July 5 evening crash on U.S. Highway 101 in Menlo Park sent shock waves through the Tongan community.

The victims, who were on a diplomatic mission, were Prince Tu’ipelehake, 56, Princess Kaimana, 46, and their driver, Vinisia Hefa, 36, an East Palo Alto resident.

Delgado was arrested at the scene and later passed drug and alcohol tests.

She has entered a not guilty plea to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. The bail initially was set at $3 million but has since been reduced to $1 million. Randy Moore, Delgado’s attorney, is expected to argue that the incident was a traffic accident and that his client was not recklessly speeding.

"There were allegations that either she was racing her car down the roadway or that she was going at speeds of 90 mph, and all of those allegations have triggered the prosecution in this case. It’s not true that she was racing," he said. "This was just an accident. It wasn’t gross negligence and it wasn’t criminal."

Delgado, a former bank teller and a recent graduate from Redwood High School, has been in San Mateo County Jail since the incident. Moore said Friday that his client was "doing as well as can be expected," during her stay in prison. "Which is not good," he added.

bfoley@examiner.com

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