April 16 trial for police commander in DUI case

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMarch 14, 2013 

The drunken driving charge of a Police Department administrator heads to trial next month after a judge's denial of a motion to keep evidence out of court.

Cmdr. Chester "Chet" Stygar is scheduled to face two misdemeanor counts of drunken driving in Stanislaus County Superior Court on April 16. On March 7, a motion to suppress evidence was denied.

Stygar's attorney, Modesto-based Kirk McAllister, did not return phone calls requesting comment. However, in November, McAllister explained why he wanted evidence thrown out.

McAllister said his motion stemmed from what he believes was his client being pulled over unlawfully.

"Basically, there wasn't sufficient cause for the stop," he said.

About two months after Stygar's arrest, CHP spokesman Eric Parsons, citing pending charges, declined to say what initiated the stop.

Stygar was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on Sept. 23, 2011. California Highway Patrol officers from the Modesto office pulled Stygar over at the intersection of Main Street and Golden State Boulevard in Turlock at 2:23 a.m.; Stygar's blood alcohol level was 0.11, according to court documents. The legal limit is 0.08.

Stygar's original trial date of Nov. 7 was delayed after the motion to suppress evidence was filed.

Carol Shipley, Stanislaus County assistant district attorney, said Stygar is scheduled to have a trial readiness conference April 12. Shipley said the conference is mainly to make sure all paperwork and procedures are in order before trial.

Stygar, who has remained on the job since his arrest, is one of two department commanders. Chief Gary Brizzee is the highest ranking officer.

An internal affairs investigation into Stygar's behavior is being conducted. Brizzee has declined to state whether the inquiry will be completed before the trial.

Brizzee, who is also Los Banos interim city manager, has repeatedly referred to Stygar's ongoing legal issues as "a distraction" to the department.

Stygar, 42, was promoted to commander in 2010. He began working in Los Banos in 1994 and has held numerous positions, including patrol officer, patrol sergeant, investigative sergeant and administrative sergeant and jail supervisor.

Stygar is a native of Modesto.

Enterprise staff writer Corey Pride can be reached at 388-6563 or cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

Enterprise staff writer Corey Pride can be reached at 388-6563 or cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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