Jury was split on most serious charge of murder

SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced Friday, Dec. 11, that a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Jury returned verdicts after a nearly two-month-long trial related to the death of 72-year-old Terry Tilton of San Luis Obispo on December 1, 2019.

The jury deliberating for several days and convicted Chelsea Annmarie Stiles, 27, of numerous charges but did not reach a unanimous verdict on the most serious charge of murder. On the charge of murder, the jury’s decision was split 11-1 in favor of guilt.

The jury convicted Stiles of the following felonies — gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated; driving under the influence of a drug causing death; four counts of assault with a deadly weapon using an automobile; leaving the scene of a vehicle collision causing injury; child abuse; and misdemeanor possession of cocaine.  

The deadly crash sequence occurred at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2019, on Highway 227 when Stiles, while under the influence of cocaine, intentionally rear-ended an automobile containing a family of four at 74 mph, disabling the vehicle. About 19 seconds later, Stiles inexplicably drove into the opposing lane of travel striking Tilton’s vehicle head-on at 68 mph, killing him instantly. 

The Stiles’s 18-month old daughter and two dogs were also in her vehicle at the time of the collisions.

“Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is deadly serious as this case tragically illustrates,” said Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth. “Ms. Stile’s decision to drive in her condition endangered not only her infant daughter within her vehicle but every other driver on the roadway that evening. Our community is thankful for the jury’s tireless effort and attention in this nearly two-month-long trial, particularly in light of the COVID-19 safety precautions.”

Stiles faces a maximum sentence of over 14 years in state prison. She will return to Department 1 of the Superior Court for sentencing on Feb. 3, 2021, SLO County Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Duffy presiding.

A copy of the charging document can be found here.

The California Highway Patrol investigated the case with the assistance of the SLO County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by SLO County Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth and Deputy District Attorney Ben Blumenthal.

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