A correction, requested by the editor, has been made to this story
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22 for the woman accused of driving a car into a crowd at a gas station parking lot and allegedly killing Shontae Treniece Blanche, a 22-year-old CSUN student, and her unborn child last November.
Unique Kiana Bishop, 21, is being charged with two murders with special circumstances, District Attorney Jean Daley said on Friday, Jan. 18.
Because of special circumstances, Bishop is eligible for the death penalty, but it does not necessarily mean it will be applied to this case, Daley said.
Bishop is also being charged with three attempted murder charges, Daley said.
Daley declined to comment further on details of the case.
In a brief session, Judge Henry J. Hall decided to postpone the preliminary hearing until February since the autopsies of both the victims were not ready. Judge Hall set no bail for Bishop.
Pauline Hayes, Blanche’s aunt, attended the hearing and wore a white shirt with the words, “Justice for Shontae and the Embryo” written in black with red and blue outlining around the letters.
This was the first time she was going to see Bishop, Hayes said.
Hayes was the only member of Blanche’s family who came to the courtroom. Blanche’s grandmother is still in shock, Hayes said.
“My mother is 70 years old,” Hayes said. “She is destroyed.”
Blanche lived with her grandmother until she married, Hayes said.
Blanche’s husband, Emery Blanche, is still in county jail and has not spoken to any family members as far as she knew, Hayes said.
Blanche was the only person missing during Christmas, and the holidays were not the same, Hayes said.
“There are so many ways you can hurt someone, but kill a child?” Hayes said. “We all get angry. We all get mad. But I wouldn’t do something like that.”
The family doesn’t know if they will hire a private attorney because of their financial circumstances, but they have spoken to several lawyers.
Bishop’s attorney, Philip Marchiondo, said outside the courtroom that he must review about 20 interviews before the preliminary hearing can take place.
Even though the autopsy of Blanche’s body has been completed, Marchiondo said he has not received the results and is waiting for the second autopsy of her unborn child.
Marchiondo is not certain of what really happened on the night of Blanche’s death, but he said he that Bishop was being beaten up by the other women and she tried to get away by driving off.
Bishop did not drive to the dispute, Marchiondo said. Instead, some friends picked up Bishop and they told her they were going shopping, Marchiondo said.
The alleged shopping trip ended up becoming a dispute with a group of about 30 women arguing about one woman’s boyfriend, Marchiondo said. Bishop did not know the male, nor did she know the woman involved with him, her lawyer said.
Previous reports by Detective Matthew Gares indicate that the group of women at the gas station was much smaller and may have only been comprised of 10 to 12 people.
The car Bishop drove into the crowd was not her car, Gares said. It was a friend’s car.
While Bishop is in jail, her spirits are good, Marchiondo said. Bishop talks to her mother a lot, Marchiondo said.
Even though the preliminary hearing has not taken place, Marchiondo said a trial would probably take place, as is the case with criminal matters.
REST FROM BLANCHE
In the meantime, Marchiondo said both sides have to look through the interviews and autopsy results that would be given to both parties in three weeks.
Both sides will continue to gather information during the discovery period of the case during the next week, Marchiondo said.
Interviews still need to be conducted, and many witnesses are expected, Marchiondo said.