Repeat DUI offender accused of killing pedestrian to stand trial

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A repeat DUI offender accused of driving drunk and hopping a curb on a Chula Vista street, killing a man sitting on a bus bench, was ordered Thursday to stand trial on murder, vehicular manslaughter and hit-and-run charges.

Nicholas Ruben Ramirez, 28, is charged in the Dec. 4 death of 65-year-old William Gerling.

Chula Vista police said Ramirez had just left a bar in the 1400 block of Third Avenue in Chula Vista when he crashed his car into a parked vehicle about 6:30 p.m. and drove off.

Ramirez returned a few minutes later, and witnesses to the non-injury accident confronted him, police said. He then sped off again and lost control of his car, which hopped a curb on Third Avenue near Orange Avenue and struck Gerling, severing one of his legs. The victim was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Ramirez has two prior DUIs from 2009.

Chula Vista police Officer Raul Naranjo testified that Ramirez volunteered statements after he was detained.

“He said, `Is he (Gerling) dead?”‘ Naranjo testified. “He said, `I’m ready to deal with it.”‘

Judge Theodore Weathers ruled that enough evidence was presented at the defendant’s preliminary hearing to order him to stand trial. The defendant faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted. A Superior Court arraignment was set for June 27.