SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A motorist who allegedly took off after hitting a female transient in the middle of Interstate 5 near downtown San Diego must stand trial on a charge of hit-and-run causing death, a judge ruled Thursday.
Sandro Garcia, 33, faces up to seven years in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Lucy Yturralde.
The prosecutor alleged that Garcia struck 51-year-old Sara Basile -- also known as Patricia McNally -- on the freeway shortly after midnight on June 19. He then allegedly drove to his aunt's home. where he drank alcohol and waited an hour before calling police.
Yturralde said the impact from the crash was significant, leaving Garcia's car with a cracked windshield and front-end damage.
CHP Officer Adolfo Moriel testified that the victim's shoes were found near her body on the freeway. Moriel said visibility was good in the area the morning of the accident.
Garcia's attorney said his client -- a West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran -- didn't have a cellphone when the accident occurred, so he drove to his aunt's house nearby before calling police.
Garcia was arrested about 3:30 a.m. and booked into jail, but later posted $50,000 bail.
Judge Peter Deddeh found that enough evidence was presented at the preliminary hearing for Garcia to proceed to trial. A Superior Court arraignment is set for Sept. 11.
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"It is sad that 14 years later people are still being smuggled in tractor-trailers," he said. "There still isn't water, there still isn't ventilation. These criminal organizations, they're all about making money."