The Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown Long Beach.
The Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown Long Beach. File photo.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said last week that it doesn’t have enough evidence to prosecute a former Long Beach Unified School District teacher who was accused of killing a 78-year-old pedestrian in a hit-and-run crash nearly two years ago.

A judge agreed to dismiss the charges after prosecutors said in court they were unable to proceed with the case against 56-year-old Deborah Betance and motioned for its dismissal, according to court records.

However, the DA’s office could refile the charges against Betance if the investigating officer finds more evidence, authorities said.

Betance had been facing one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of hit-and-run causing injury after allegedly crashing into a pedestrian in Belmont Heights and then fleeing the scene. Her attorney declined to comment.

Police alleged Betance was behind the wheel of an orange SUV that struck and killed Jere Whitney as she was using the crosswalk on Fourth Street on the night of July 6, 2021.

An image from security video of the SUV police say was involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed 78-year-old Jere Whitney. Photo courtesy the Long Beach Police Department.

Whitney died a few days later from her injuries. Meanwhile, officers continued their investigation, and a little over a year later, they identified Betance as a suspect. On July 13, 2021, they took her into custody in connection with the crash.

Betance bonded out of jail six days after being arrested, and in November 2022, she pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After failing to appear at a court proceeding on March 1, a judge revoked Betance’s bail and issued a bench warrant for her arrest.

Two weeks later, records show, the case was called for a bench warrant hearing where a judge vacated Betance’s warrant and allowed her to remain out on bond while awaiting future proceedings.

Betance was a teacher at Longfellow Elementary School at the time of the crash, but the district later suspended her without pay. A Long Beach Unified School District spokesperson said he could not comment on the reason for the suspension, citing employee confidentiality laws.

In January, she retired from the district, according to school officials.

After mistrial, prosecutors won’t retry CHP officer accused of killing pedestrian