- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

INDIO, Calif. (AP) - A Southern California woman has been charged with murder, animal cruelty and driving while impaired in a crash that killed two Canadian men and two dogs riding in a golf cart in a residential area.

Angela Lavanty, 32, is charged with second-degree murder in Wednesday’s crash in unincorporated Thousands Palms, about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Lavanty, who was being held on a $1 million bond, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Friday and was set to get a court-appointed attorney Tuesday.

Her mother, Marsha Lavanty, said Monday that her daughter is not a murderer but declined to comment further.

On Wednesday afternoon, Angela Lavanty’s Mercedes SUV hit the back of a golf cart, ejecting 76-year-old Ronald Little and 77-year-old Neil Frederick Karran, both of British Columbia.

Investigators believe Lavanty was on prescription drugs when she hit the golf cart at more than 50 mph in a residential area where the speed limit is 25 mph, said Sgt. Daniel Hesser with the California Highway Patrol’s Indio division.

“It obliterated that golf cart,” Hesser said. “It was pretty much in pieces.”

Lavanty remained at the scene.

The two men killed are friends, and Little is believed to be a seasonal resident in the area, Hesser said.

Little lived full-time in the retirement community of Lac La Hache in British Columbia, and Karran lived 250 miles to the south in Cawston, just north of the Seattle area, according to the county coroner’s office. Both men are married, Hesser said.

A 1981 decision by the California Supreme Court held that a person driving under the influence could be charged with second-degree murder if they act “with a conscious disregard for human life.”

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