Arraignment for driver accused in hit-and-run that killed teen jogger in Chula Vista

Posted at 1:21 PM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 18:51:37-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - A driver accused in a hit-and-run crash that left a recent high school graduate dead was charged in a Chula Vista courtroom Tuesday with one felony and one misdemeanor.

George Joseph Espinosa made his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon at the South County Courthouse. The 47-year-old Chula Vista resident faces charges of felony hit-and-run resulting in death or injury and misdemeanor involuntary vehicular manslaughter.

On July 8, 17-year-old Leilani Magno was jogging along the sidewalk in the 900 block of Lane Avenue at around 8 p.m. when she was struck from behind by a white SUV allegedly driven by Espinosa.

According to police, the SUV did not stop after hitting Magno. She was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries.

A day after the incident, Espinosa turned himself in at Chula Vista Police Department headquarters and was taken into custody. Police said Espinosa also directed officers where to find his vehicle, which matched the description of the SUV involved.

Espinosa works as a tennis coach at Mater Dei High School and Eastlake Country Club.

Magno graduated from Eastlake High School several weeks earlier. Described by family members and friends as a “top scholar and athlete,” Magno was set to attend UC Irvine this fall.

Magno’s mother, Vanessa, said of her daughter: “We lost an amazing person. A person who had a bright future who was a person who was going to reach so high in life.”

A GoFundMe account was set up to assist Magno's family.