CHULA VISTA (CNS) – A man who allegedly struck a pedestrian on purpose with a stolen Hummer in San Diego’s Egger Highlands neighborhood pleaded not guilty Tuesday to more than a dozen felony and misdemeanor counts, including murder.
Omar Esparza, 44, is accused in the death of 52-year-old Jose Armenta, who was fatally injured following a Dec. 20 vehicle pursuit that began in Chula Vista.
San Diego police Lt. Andra Brown said that after 11 a.m., Chula Vista police began chasing the stolen Hummer after it crashed into a building at 1400 Melrose Avenue. The chase continued onto Interstate 5, where Esparza exited onto Palm Avenue and drove into a trailer park, Brown said.
There, he allegedly struck Armenta, which Brown said appeared to be an intentional act, though a suspected motive was not disclosed.
Armenta died the following day, according to the lieutenant.
Esparza allegedly drove off after striking the victim, and was arrested “around the corner” with the help of a police dog, Brown said.
Esparza is charged with murder, evading officers causing death, vehicle theft, vandalism and disobeying a court order in connection with the Dec. 20 incident.
He also faces an allegation of committing the killing while out on bail on a separate case, in which he faces charges that include assault with a deadly weapon.
Esparza is being held without bail, though a bail review hearing was set for Monday.