John Dungan accused of killing woman, her children
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in the case of a Santa Barbara man accused of deliberately ramming his speeding car into another car headed in the opposite direction. The collision killed a Solvang woman and her two small children.
Defendant John Dungan is accused of driving faster than 100 mph on State Route 154 before crashing into a car driven by Rebecca Vanessa Bley, 34, who had her children, 2-year-old Lucienne Bley Gleason and 4-month-old Desmond Bley Gleason, strapped in car seats in the back.
California Highway Patrol investigators testified that Mr. Dungan was driving the wrong way on State Route 154 at 119 mph before the crash. Ms. Bley and her children died of blunt force injuries immediately after impact, coroner’s officials testified.
Mr. Dungan, 28 at the time of the Oct. 25, 2019 collision, was injured and taken to the hospital. He was subsequently charged with three counts of first-degree murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. Mr. Dungan is being held without bail in the Santa Barbara County Jail.
Both the prosecution and defense have rested their cases, District Attorney Joyce Dudley’s office told the News-Press, confirming that closing arguments are set to begin Thursday morning at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Barbara.
The prosecution will close first, followed by the defense, before the case goes to the jury for deliberation.
Neither side is permitted to comment about the case itself, including testimony and evidence presented at trial, because of a gag order issued by Judge Thomas Adams.
The force of the collision caused Ms. Bley to be ejected from her car, but her children were trapped in the back seat, investigators said. Their bodies were hard to locate because of dirt and ash stemming from a vehicle fire caused by the collision.
Witnesses testified they saw Mr. Dungan speeding before he drove straight into Ms. Bley’s oncoming vehicle.
Some of the texts he sent to his parents in the months before the crash “appeared to be suicidal/homicidal in nature,” a court document said.