Trial ordered for motorist accused in hit-and-run accident that - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trial ordered for motorist accused in hit-and-run accident that killed bicyclist

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VISTA (CNS) - A motorist accused of hitting a bicyclist near Leucadia State Beach in Encinitas last month, then leaving the scene, was ordered to stand trial Tuesday on a charge of hit-and-run causing death.

Joseph Ricardo Fernandez, 46, is charged in the April 10 death of 47-year-old James Swarzman of Encino.

After a morning-long preliminary hearing at the Vista Courthouse, Judge Harry Elias found that enough evidence had been presented to proceed to trial on July 11.

The defendant -- who faces four years in prison if convicted -- had his bail reduced from $100,000 to $50,000.

A readiness conference was set for June 6.

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.


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