A motorist accused of hitting a bicyclist near Leucadia State Beach in Encinitas last month, then leaving the scene, was ordered on Tuesday to stand trial 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's fiancée Nicole Honda, who testified at Tuesday's hearing, said she remembered seeing a flash of light before she heard what sounded like an explosion.
"I saw something orange flying from behind me across to the side of the road," said Honda.
Honda said a few seconds later she realized it was her fiancé being thrown into the air.
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.
"I dropped my bike and started screaming and ran over to him and called 911," said Honda. "He was struggling to breathe. I heard him trying to breathe."
The driver did not stop, and Swarzman died several hours later at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.
Fernandez, of Carlsbad, came forward three days later 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.
Fernandez's attorney said Fernandez didn't stop because he didn't realize he actually hit Swarzman.
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