Prelim. hearing for hit and run motorist accused of killing bicy - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Prelim. hearing for hit and run motorist accused of killing bicyclist in Encinitas

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VISTA (CNS) - A preliminary hearing is scheduled Tuesday for a motorist accused of hitting a bicyclist near Leucadia State Beach in Encinitas last month, then leaving the scene.

Joseph Ricardo Fernandez, 46, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of hit-and-run in the April 10 death of 47-year-old James Swarzman of Encino.

Swarzman was riding with friends when he was struck from behind about 1 a.m. in the 1200 block of North Coast Highway 101, said sheriff's Sgt. Mark O'Connor.

The driver did not stop, and Swarzman died several hours later at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

Fernandez, of Carlsbad, came forward the next day to report that he believed he might have been involved in the accident, O'Connor said.

Detectives inspected his Dodge Ram 1500, which matched descriptions -- including front-end damage -- of the northbound vehicle that struck Swarzman, and he was arrested, but no charges were filed and Fernandez was released from custody pending further investigation. He was re-arrested April 25.

At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, a judge will decide if enough evidence was presented for Fernandez to stand trial.

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