Debra Charlotte Franco


BISBEE — There were no drugs and little alcohol found in the system of a woman charged with causing the death of another motorist last summer, an assistant prosecutor said in court Wednesday.

However, 66-year-old Debra Charlotte Franco fled from the crash scene, sometimes driving up to 100 miles per hour until she was stopped near Tombstone, authorities said.

Despite being accused of fleeing the scene, Franco was released from the Cochise County Jail on her own recognizance by Cochise County Superior Judge Laura Cardinal following Wednesday’s hearing.

Franco, who lives in Silver City, N.M., is charged with reckless manslaughter and negligent homicide in the death of Jesus Campoy of Douglas, on Aug. 31, 2019. She had been in jail on $50,000 bond since the wreck.

Authorities say Franco took a wrong turn onto State Route 80 from Highway 90, and as she was attempting a U-turn, Campoy tried to avoid Franco’s sport utility vehicle and struck a guardrail. The impact sent Campoy across the roadway. His car was then struck by another motorist, killing Campoy instantly. The other driver was also injured, police said.

Assistant prosecutor Doyle Johnstun said in court that Franco “fled the scene sometimes driving at 100 miles per hour.” He said she was pursued by an off-duty California Highway patrolman who was in the area. Franco was stopped near Tombstone.

According to the state’s toxicology test results, Franco’s blood alcohol content was less than 0.02.

The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

Johnstun said the amount found in Franco’s bloodstream is “negligible alcohol.” A blood alcohol content chart on the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s website shows that a motorist should “use caution” if their blood alcohol level is below .05.

Law enforcement at the crash scene believed Franco was impaired and they took a blood sample from her.

Five of Campoy’s family members attended the hearing Wednesday and one relative read a statement to the judge asking that Franco remain incarcerated.

“She is a menace to society,” the woman said in her statement.

But Cardinal said, due to “the fact that she was not impaired...she will be released on her own recognizance.”

The other conditions of Franco’s release include GPS monitoring and no illegal drugs or alcohol. Cardinal said Franco may live at her Silver City residence and go to her doctor’s appointments in Las Cruces. Franco is also allowed to drive as long as she has a valid license.

While the judge read the conditions of the release, Franco, with shoulder-length white hair and black glasses, cried, her shoulders shaking.

“I wish you luck, stay safe out there,” Cardinal told her.

Franco’s trial is set for March 9.

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