VISTA, Calif. (CNS) - A man who intentionally struck an Oceanside motorcycle officer with a car during a routine traffic stop was convicted Monday of attempted murder in a retrial.
Roberto Ignacio Flores, 30, was found guilty Monday by a Vista jury for driving a Dodge Neon into Oceanside Police Department Officer Brad Hunter on June 19, 2017.
The crash left Hunter hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Hunter, a 29-year veteran of the department, was later forced to medically retire.
Hunter was struck while pulling over a driver for an expired registration near Oceanside Boulevard and Foussat Road.
Flores, who was not involved in the traffic stop, accelerated and veered directly into Hunter, who was flung up and flipped over Flores' car, according to prosecutors.
Hunter suffered head injuries and his leg was broken in three places. He had to be placed in a coma until swelling on the brain subsided.
Flores sped away, but was captured a few minutes later, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors allege that after his arrest, Flores bragged to a sheriff's detective posing as an inmate, as well as a confidential informant, that he struck Hunter with the car.
Flores had been found guilty in 2017 of Hunter's attempted killing, but his conviction and 29-year-to-life prison sentence were overturned by an appellate court panel that ruled his attorney ignored the defendant's argument that he was innocent of the crime.
His attorney argued at the first trial that while Flores was the driver, he did not have the intent to kill required for an attempted murder conviction, while Flores insisted he was innocent.
Flores also disagreed with his lawyer's concession on weapons possession charges related to a collection of guns found at the defendant's home.
In overturning the conviction, a three-justice appellate panel ruled that Flores' Sixth Amendment rights were violated, as he was not allowed to present the defense of his choice.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 7 at the Vista courthouse.
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