Driver pleads not guilty to DUI in fatal Mira Mesa crash

Posted at 4:44 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 21:36:52-04

SAN DIEGO - A man accused of driving drunk and causing a collision in Mira Mesa that killed a 19-year-old motorist pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury.

Christian Evangelista, 21, was ordered held on $1 million bail.

Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright said Evangelista spent the night of Aug. 20 drinking with friends, and when they ran out of alcohol, the group decided to go to a 7-Eleven store to buy more.

One of Evangelista's friends offered to drive to the store but the defendant drove anyway, according to Bright.

On the way back, Evangelista -- driving 50-55 mph in a 25-mph zone, ran a stop sign on Camino Ruiz and broadsided a car driven by 19-year-old Tutam Le, the prosecutor alleged.

Le died on the way to a hospital, and Evangelista and two others in his car were hurt.

The defendant's blood-alcohol level was measured at .13 percent two hours after the accident, which means it would have been between .16 and .17 percent -- double the legal limit -- at the time of the crash, the prosecutor alleged.

Bright said the defendant had a pending speeding ticket and had been convicted for texting while driving.

Evangelista -- who faces 15 years and four months in prison if convicted -- will be back in court Sept. 8 for a readiness conference and Sept. 12 for a preliminary hearing.