A Hemet man who allegedly plowed through a red light while drunk, smashing into two cars and killing the driver of one, pleaded not guilty today to second-degree murder and other felonies.
Sergio Solano Morales of Hemet could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted in the Sept. 30 wreck that killed 30-year-old Marissa Duran and
injured two other people.
Along with murder, Morales is charged with DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run resulting in death, driving on a suspended license and sentence-enhancing allegations of inflicting great bodily injury, fleeing a hit-and-run crash and victimizing multiple people in the same crime.
Morales appeared today before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for Nov. 2.
She also left his bail at $5 million.
The defendant is being held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to Hemet police Sgt. Randy Young, on the afternoon of Sept. 30, Morales allegedly ran a red light while headed eastbound on Florida Avenue
and slammed his pickup truck into two cars going north on State Street.
Three people, including Duran, were in the two vehicles. She was airlifted to Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where
she died about an hour later.
The other two victims were taken to hospitals with various injuries, from which they’re recovering, police said.
Morales fled the crash, running away barefoot, according to Young.
He said witnesses spotted the defendant trying to hide about three blocks away, in the 100 block of North Juanita Street, near Hemet City Hall.
Officers were alerted and immediately arrested him without incident.