VISTA (CNS) - A 19-year-old motorist accused of striking a cyclist riding home from work, then trying to cover up his involvement and fleeing the scene, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of hit-and-run causing death and had his bail raised to $1 million.
Jin Hyuk Byun faces up to four years in state prison if convicted in the death of 18-year-old Angel Bojorquez of Escondido.
Bojorquez, an Albertsons grocery store clerk in Del Mar, was riding his mountain bike east on Via de la Valle when he was struck about 1 a.m. Friday, prosecutor Aimee McLeod said. The victim's body was discovered along the road about an hour later.
McLeod said authorities theorize that after striking the victim, Byun pulled over in a neighborhood and pushed some of the broken pieces of the headlight assembly back into his Chevrolet Avalanche and removed rubber from one of the truck's tires before driving more than five miles home.
A neighbor noticed the damage to Byun's truck and notified authorities. McLeod said Byun had moved his truck from the street into the garage in an effort to hide it.
When a CHP officer went to the defendant's home last Sunday, Byun initially refused to cooperate, but later admitted that he knew he hit something, but thought it could have been a mailbox or a deer, McLeod said.
"In this case, we believe that anyone would have known they'd hit a person," the prosecutor told reporters.
According to the prosecutor, Byun also told authorities that he had been involved in a number of fender-benders in the recent past.
Vista Superior Court Judge Marshall Hockett said Byun has a pending drug case in Riverside County. The judge said the defendant was an extreme danger to the community in raising Byun's bail from $50,000 to $1 million.
Defense attorney Anna Yum said Byun was taking classes at Mira Costa College and was studying business.
A readiness conference was set for July 19 and a preliminary hearing for July 24.