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Ashley East waives right to speedy trial in hit-and-run case; Accident killed soldier

By Staff | Sep 18, 2008

The woman accused in the death of Iraq War veteran Daniel Beougher and of critically injuring of his wife, Lauren, in a December hit-and-run accident was in court Wednesday.

Ashley East, 25, faces 10 charges, including DUI manslaughter, after she allegedly drove under the influence and crashed into Beougher’s Jeep on Hancock Bridge Parkway.

In court Wednesday, East fidgeted uncomfortably in an orange Lee County Jail jumpsuit, seemingly avoiding eye contact with Beougher’s mother who sat in the front row of the gallery.

East’s attorney, Assistant Regional Council Ita Neymotin, asked Lee Circuit Judge Thomas Reese for a Nov. 25 pretrial conference date, and acknowledged East’s waiver to a speedy trial.

“There were a lot of witnesses in this trial, your honor,” Neymotin told Reese.

Neymotin said the defense still needs to depose at least 20 more witnesses, including one in Ohio on Oct. 3.

Beougher and his wife were driving to visit family in North Fort Myers when the fatal accident occurred. East reportedly fled the scene, leaving behind the Beoughers and her passenger, and was taken into custody in New Jersey after a tipster told authorities she rode a public bus there.

Due to the fact East did not have a valid driver’s license when she allegedly borrowed the truck involved in the crash, local charter fishing Capt. John “Giddyup” Bunch and Beougher family lobbied for the Beougher Bill. It is an amendment to a transportation House Bill that suspends the license of anyone who lends their vehicle to a unlicensed driver involved in a crash for one year with possible jail time.

Gov. Charlie Christ signed the Beougher Bill into law this year.

East has pleaded not guilty on all counts. A trial date has not been set.