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Public defender temporarily appointed for woman charged with murder

A public defender was temporarily appointed for a woman charged with three counts of murder and a fourth count of felony driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and causing injury in a prior conviction.

Judge Janet Hilde appointed Craig Osborne of Truckee to temporarily represent Karen Schwamb, 48, in court Feb. 23.

Schwamb is seeking her own legal representation. Her arraignment was originally set for Feb. 9, and then held over to Feb. 16 because Schwamb did not have legal counsel present.

Osborn was given until March 23 at 9 a.m. to familiarize himself with Schwamb’s case. Arraignment was again waived.

Plumas County District Attorney David Hollister said he was aware that Schwamb was in touch with an attorney she hoped would represent her. However, that man is involved in a trial outside Plumas County and hasn’t been able to meet with Schwamb.

Schwamb was charged with three fatalities following a crash Monday, Feb. 5, at 2:19 p.m., on Highway 70 near Soda Creek Road between Twain and the Greenville Wye.

Schwamb was driving eastbound on Highway 70 in a 2017 Subaru at a high rate of speed when she went to pass a slower moving pickup.

Schwamb allegedly pulled out into the westbound lane, passing over double yellow lines and on a right hand curve. She moved her vehicle right into alignment with a 1997 Ford F-150 being driven by Belden resident Tom Fridrich, 61. The two vehicles collided almost head-on. He died at the scene.

Behind the Ford was a 2016 Kawasaki Concourse motorcycle carrying John Lowe, 46, and Crystal Smith, 40, of Paradise.

Their motorcycle collided with the Subaru, killing both people.

James Timberlake, 58, was a passenger in the Subaru and sustained minor injuries. He was not charged in the crash.

Schwamb sustained major injuries and was transported to Plumas District Hospital for treatment. She was then released into the custody of the Plumas County Sheriff’s Corrections Center.

Schwamb is being held on $3 million bail.

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