SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A judge refused Wednesday to throw out manslaughter and other charges against a man who allegedly drove the wrong way on a freeway while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, causing the death of a sheriff's deputy in pursuit.
Jose Pedro Lopez, also known as Jose Lopez Jasso, is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury, driving with a measurable blood-alcohol causing injury and a misdemeanor charge of driving the wrong way on a divided highway in the Feb. 28 death of Deputy Ken Collier.
Lopez, 23, was bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing last May.
On Wednesday, Judge Laura Halgren ruled that sufficient evidence had been presented in today's hearing to support the earlier findings of Judge Lisa Foster.
Trial is set for Dec. 1.
Witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing that they saw a small sedan traveling eastbound on westbound state Route 52 around 3:15 a.m. on Feb. 28.
Maria Sanders said she was driving home to Miramar when she noticed the headlights of a wrong-way driver. The witness said she pulled over to the right shoulder and let the wrong-way vehicle pass her.
The witness said she noticed a sheriff's vehicle with its emergency lights in pursuit, then saw it hit something and burst into flames.
Defense attorney Bruce Kotler argued unsuccessfully that Lopez was not aware that he was being pursued and therefore should not be held to answer on the gross vehicular manslaughter charge. He called it a "freakish accident."
But Deputy District Attorney Damon Mosler told Foster that Lopez should have known that driving the wrong way on a freeway is dangerous.
Lopez -- who is also charged with possession of a shank in the county jail and a misdemeanor charge of battery on a correctional deputy -- faces up to 13 years in prison if convicted, said prosecutor Damon Mosler.
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